“Always treat your employees the way you would treat your customers” Steven Covey

When I was CEO of Great Place to Work Middle East, I was often amazed as to how leaders within an organization would review their scores and they would not in a lot of cases take it seriously.  Well we can wait till next year and try again.  Scores were not that great, but we think it is a little better than last year.  These were a few of the feedback nuggets that I would receive.

As I sat and looked on my thought would be what is these scores were from your customers.  What if your customers told you that they were just doing business with you but if the opportunity came along, they would leave you?  What if your customer engagement scores came back each year and were consistently trending downward?

Customer Engagement vs Employee Engagement

There is so much research that shows that an engaged workforce may be the key to better customer experience. Earlier this year, the research company Temkin Group found a correlation between efforts in employee engagement and success in customer Experience. In its 2016 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, the firm revealed that companies which excel at customer experience have “1.5 times as many engaged employees as do customer experience laggards.”

Customer Experience experts agree that treating your employees well is a necessary first step to providing a better customer experience.

“Customer experience is not a technology problem—it’s a culture problem,” Robert Tas, chief marketing officer of applications vendor Pegasystems, tells Forbes contributor Christine Crandell. According to Tas, a common barrier for better CX is when employees feel that there’s a disconnect between how the company treats them and how they’re expected to treat consumers.

Connecting the two experiences: CX/EE

However, most companies fail at connecting the two. According to Gallup, only 31.5 percent of the U.S. workforce consider itself engaged in work. That level has relatively remained the same over a period of year.  So if we are saying that employee engagement is the key to the Customer Experience you would assume that there is a laser focus on the Employee Engagement/Experience.  Especially since you can’t read an article today with the Customer Experience being mentioned.  According to Gartner, 89 percent of companies now expect to compete primarily on the basis of the experience they provide customers.

So the key to this puzzle is that companies that want to improve their customer experience  strategy should therefore focus on better engagement with their employees. Here are three simple ways to make it happen.

Where do we start?

  1. Go beyond numbers and rankings: Build the Relationship

Whatever tool you are using to measure engagement, has to be frequent.  How often are you checking the pulse?  A patient that is sick would require you to consistently check their vital signs.  Once a year engagement is not a successful model in today’s environment..

  1. Engage regularly with your employees: How are we doing?

The former Mayor of New York City would venture into the streets and ask the citizens, “How am I doing?  He was able to get a clear unfiltered view from his citizens.  How often are we using some type model to get an unvarnished view.  Are you leaders engaging with the lowest level of the org. chart.  Have them go down -2, -3 levels and talk to them frequent and often.

For employee engagement to help drive customer experience, getting feedback from your own people should be part of the culture. Companies need to turn this engagement into a conversation. They need to open the feedback loop and share back with employees how their insight is driving change in the organization. Showing employees that their input had results is an important step to ensuring that people are committed to their work.

“When we do the right thing for our employees, it’s also the right thing for our business,” Corey duBrowa, SVP of global communications at Starbucks, “When employees are satisfied and engaged, the result is deeper customer connections and an elevated customer experience.”

We have to find out what matters and motivates our employees.  This feedback loop will allow us to build a community of our employees as we engage them move.  It is not about perks as that is just a gimmick.  Only by talking to them regularly can you have a deeper understanding of their needs and wants.

Next Steps to drive success!

Your employees [greatest asset] are an important piece in the customer experience puzzle. It’s impossible to have a seamless end-to-end brand experience if your employees don’t have a customer-centric mindset and don’t have the motivation to keep customers happy.

Companies are going to have to realize that  employee engagement should be a  top of the priority list paired with the organization strategy.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup