Customer Service Week: How is employee experience related to customer experience?

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It is becoming increasingly necessary to ensure that all staff are trained on how to best handle, serve and interact with customers to ensure they have a great customer experience.

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Photo credit: Ketut

The two most important components of a company, for it to operate and meet its mission, objectives and goals, are its employees and its customers. Employees carry out and embody the company’s mission and goals, and customers buy the products and services. When employees are loyal, they enthusiastically recommend the company and its brands to other potential customers.

Shelly Kramer in her article, ‘10 Stats Linking Employee Experience with Customer Experience’ describes ‘Employee Experience’ as how companies create, develop and nurture a culture that’s employee-centric. Most people are looking for more than a job opportunity, they want to know if this opportunity gives them a chance to grow and achieve their career goals, helps them to be an all-round great employee by learning, growing and thriving in their office or work environment.

Most employees on average spend more time working than anywhere else, so there is an increasing need to feel valued and appreciated when they are at work. On the other hand, Institute of Customer Experience(ICX) defines ‘Customer Experience’ as the entirety of interactions a customer has with a company and its products or services. This includes a customer’s perception, their rational, physical, emotional, subconscious, and psychological interaction with the company’s products, services and employees. They go further to explain that perception informs how a customer behaves and interacts with the product, service and brand, creating sentimental attachment, which inspires customer loyalty, and definitely affects revenues.

So how are employee experience and customer experience related? What are some of the ways that employee experience can be enhanced to elevate customer experience?

How well is an employee is treated?

Happy, satisfied employees lead to happy, satisfied customers. This is a loaded statement made by Shelly Kramer in her article, ‘10 Stats Linking Employee Experience with Customer Experience’. An employee who is treated well and whose role is appreciated, is inspired to work harder and apply all knowledge and skills to ensure that their roles are executed well and with precision. It goes without saying that your employees or a company’s staff are also the ambassadors of the company wherever they go and are entrusted with the delicate responsibility of carrying the good name and image of the company. They will take care of the customer’s experience at all stages.

An employee who feels trusted with their roles, respected in their workplace and valued is likely to put their best foot forward in carrying out their duties as compared to an employee who feels disrespected, undervalued and not trusted.

For example: Simon works in a paper packaging company in the Industrial Area of Nairobi as a Sales Representative. During Monday morning sales appraisal meetings, Simon and his team members are reminded constantly that if they don’t deliver sales targets, they will be fired. They are reminded that they shouldn’t spend time in the office as they should be in the field talking to clients and presenting pitches. The team overtime feels demoralized because even when they meet and surpass sales targets, they are not acknowledged. How long do you think this Sales Team can keep up and stay performing? How well do you think they can handle and be keen on the customers’ needs when they view customers as a means to reach a target but not as a valued part of the company’s process?

When employees are treated well, appreciated, and taught how to value and appreciate customers as more than just entities who buy their products and services, they go out of their way to be brand ambassadors and this helps elevate the customer experience. A customer who is appreciated and valued is not likely to go looking for the same product or service elsewhere.

How well is an employee remunerated?

Remuneration comes in many forms, not just money in the bank or a pay cheque at the end of the month. Remuneration can also include stock options in the company, competitive bonuses and periodic pay increments, education reimbursements or sponsorships, quality training, and health benefits. When employees get hired with a great package that takes care of them and by extension their families, they are not likely to be looking for other job opportunities elsewhere in the near future. This will mean that they will settle and immerse themselves in their role and perform their work well.

A company that takes care of its employees will see the results in their ROI. This will also reflect on how well their customers are treated and the experience they get. A great example is companies that handle high net worth customers. Any employee who is expected to handle such customers has to look the part so that these customers are able to trust them with their business. It's all about image and perception. You’ve heard the famous saying ‘Money begets money’. All factors being constant, when an employee knows they are being well compensated for the work they are doing, they are more motivated to work better – including looking the part.

How well is an employee trained and equipped to handle customers?

Building the capacity of employees to handle customers properly and manage them and their expectations exceptionally well, is the responsibility of the company. A company is responsible for developing this as part of its company culture and inspiring its employees to be part of it. Employees who are customer-facing need regular and constant training to ensure that they are confident in executing their roles because this translates to happy customers, high customer retention and sustained or even increased revenues.

While in some companies Customer Service is boxed into one department, it is becoming increasingly necessary to ensure that all staff are trained on how to best handle, serve and interact with customers to ensure they have a great customer experience. This is no longer one department’s responsibility, but the responsibility of everyone working in the company in whichever capacity. An engineer who goes to repair or upgrade a customer’s equipment at home or at their office, and doesn’t take the necessary steps to find out what happened or have a discussion with the client about the equipment and maintenance tips, will make the client feel like the company as a whole doesn’t value them. An accountant who doesn’t take time to explain payment procedures to a customer and instead just says, ‘Your cheque isn’t ready!’ and hangs up the phone, displays an uncaring attitude, that reflects on the company.

You might have heard of companies that are well known for delaying payments for months on end, and there’s always that one accountant that everyone knows always snaps on phone when asked about payment status. These may seem like minute details, but they contribute to the company’s image and how customers perceive the company and its brand. This makes it very necessary for the company to train its employees, based on its culture and what they want their image to be, and ensure that this is implemented at all levels.

What do you think are some of the other factors that influence the relationship between employee experience and customer experience? Please share them in the comments below.

 

About the author. 

Linda Obilo has over 8 years experience as a Digital Marketer working with different brands and runs her e-commerce store Shopatadora.

 

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