What is an employee experience and why does it matter? Find out in our article!
Whatever industry you are in, delivering outstanding customer experience is most probably one of the major goals of your business. While there are several key factors contributing to customer experience, having an employee-centric culture within your organization can significantly add to it.
In fact, according to the Deloitte survey, 84% of executives rate employee experience as important. Yet only 9% said they were ready to actively improve employee experience. The undeniable link between customer and employee experiences still tends to be overlooked by many business leaders.
What is Employee Experience?
Employee experience, also shortened as EX, is how an employee feels working at your company throughout their entire employee lifecycle. That includes the whole period from pre-hire to post-offboarding and everything in between. Basically, every aspect of an employee’s relationship with the company shapes their overall employee experience.
The ‘The Employee Experience Index’ study by IBM Smarter Workforce Institute defines employee experience as: “A set of perceptions that employees have about their experiences at work in response to their interactions with the organization.”
Employee Experience vs Employee Engagement
Employee experience is closely related to employee engagement. Since EX has been given increased attention over recent years, there’s a lot of confusion between the two. Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has towards the organization and its goals. It’s the energy and effort employees put into their work.
At the most basic level, the difference between employee experience and employee engagement is that the ‘experience’ is the input, while the ‘engagement’ is the outcome. That means employee engagement is the result of a positive employee experience.
How does Employee Experience Impact Customer Experience?
Ian Golding, a certified CX professional, talks about how customer experiences are directly impacted by employee experiences in his self-published book ‘Customer What?: The honest and practical guide to customer experience’. “If a business cares for its people, and they feel engaged and empowered, in turn, they will care for the customers of that business. If your business does not care for its people, your customers will interact with disengaged, unhappy employees, and disengagement and unhappiness are what they will remember about the experience,” Golding says.
Research by Harvard Business Review revealed that happier employees are clearly associated with companies’ ability to satisfy customers. That is particularly true in industries with the closest contact between employees and customers, such as retail, health care, travel and tourism, financial services, restaurants, and food services, the research claims.
Whether a customer receives a positive or a negative experience with your business, is almost always based on the perceived quality of an interaction they had with one of your employees. These are mostly employees on the frontlines dealing with customers as part of their day-to-day activities, like customer service, customer support, and sales reps. And numerous studies have proved that even a single interaction with a customer-facing employee can impact customer satisfaction by either making or breaking the customer’s experience.
Some of the world’s most customer-centric brands have actually achieved customer experience success by putting their employees first. Zappos and Ritz-Carlton are known to have made employee happiness and empowerment a key to delivering outstanding customer experiences. Richard Branson also believes that making employees the top priority is the reason behind Virgin’s success.
“It should go without saying that if employees are 100% proud of the job they are doing, if you give them the right tools, if they are treated well, they are going to be smiling, they are going to be happy and therefore the customer will have a positive experience. On the other hand, if employees are not looked after and not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile and the customer will be treated in a way where they won’t want to come back for more”, Branson said in an Inc. interview.
Benefits of Having a Positive Employee Experience
Increased efficiency and engagement
Employees with a positive employee experience at their workplace are more engaged, more productive, and efficient. According to the Eagle Hill Consulting Workplace Culture Survey, employees actually believe a positive company culture has a direct impact on their performance:
- 77% consider that it increases their ability to do their best at work.
- 76% have experienced improvements in their productivity and efficiency.
- 74% have improved their ability to best serve customers.
- 73% feel more committed to help achieve their company’s goals.
- 70% feel more devoted to ethical behaviors.
- 67% believe it increases their innovation and creativity.
Better customer service
Despite the rise of AI, automation and self-service, customers will always desire human connection when it comes to getting customer support. Especially when they are challenged by complicated customer service issues or want to complain. And your customer service employees are the only human interface they interact with. Happy employees are able to deliver a better customer service experience, because:
- They are more empathetic and more responsive to customers’ needs;
- They are willing to take ownership and deliver on their commitments;
- They are more likely to go above and beyond to resolve customer issues efficiently;
- They are more passionate about WOWing and delighting customers.
Employees becoming brand advocates
Happy, empowered, and highly engaged employees who feel cared for and valued are naturally becoming your best brand advocates and ambassadors. They are often more willing to speak positively about your company to each other, to your prospects, and to customers. Their knowledge of your products or services coupled with their enthusiasm and commitment to your company values greatly contributes to their ability to deliver a consistently positive customer experience.
The obvious connection between employee experience and customer experience shouldn’t be overlooked by businesses. Building a positive company culture with the right working conditions and enjoyable work environment, ensuring employees are treated well, feel happy, engaged, and appreciated is a key to creating and maintaining a positive employee experience within an organization.
A customer’s experience with your business is only as good as your employees’ experience. When employees enjoy a positive employee experience, they are more likely to turn it into a positive customer experience. And the more supported, empowered, and engaged your employees are, the better quality of experience they can provide to your customers.