Employee Happiness = Customer Satisfaction
When your employees feel the love, so will your customers—and it all starts with a great experience at work.
There’s an old cliché in business: The customer is always right. But increasingly, business leaders are learning instead that, to create a positive customer experience, it’s sometimes the employees who should come first.
“More leaders are coming to understand the link between great employee experiences and driving customer satisfaction,” says Jen Stroud, principal employee experience strategist at ServiceNow.
Stroud works with business leaders to help them reimagine the employee experience (EX) and drive better business outcomes through positive customer experiences (CX). Stroud’s colleague Ian Ashby works the other side of the equation. As principal strategist for customer service, he’s witnessed first-hand the power of happy employees in a service environment.
Here’s what they both had to say about the increasingly important EX-CX connection.
Happy Customers Buy More
Until recently, assisting customers was regarded as a sunk cost that dragged down the bottom line. That’s no longer true, Ashby explains.
“That changed around 2010, when we started talking about a direct link between customer service and revenue,” he says.
For executives, this should justify larger investments in creating positive employee experiences.
“If you’ve got a happy customer because they had a good service experience, there’s an opportunity to cross-sell or upsell to additional services,” Ashby says. “Or they might become an advocate, which helps you win new customers. That’s the revenue component that connects [EX and CX].”
Stroud agrees, noting that employees with better experiences can then focus more on business outcomes.
Top Talent Is Hard To Keep
The best employee experiences begin on day one. A smooth onboarding process—one that allows new workers to settle into their roles quickly and without undue hassle—sets a lasting, positive tone.
This is more than just “nice to have,” Stroud explains. “It’s imperative to create great employee experiences or you’ll lose out on talent, and the minute this happens, it impacts your customer experience.”
The same goes for internal transitions, such as job changes and restructuring. Well-executed processes can prevent attrition.
“Retaining talent is so significant these days because the younger generation isn’t afraid to hop around and seek great experiences in different organizations,” Stroud says. “The longer you can retain talent, the more ROI you’re going to see.”
The benefits of retention go beyond saving on recruiting costs. Not only are longer-term employees often more skilled at serving customers, but they also serve as internal ambassadors. This yields a positive network effect, where one employee’s satisfaction can spread among their colleagues exponentially.
Covid-19 Brought EX And CX Closer Together
When the pandemic struck, EX and CX leaders learned just how closely their fates were intertwined. After all, if your employees can’t work, they can’t serve your customers. Many found themselves racing to connect their divisions with smarter workflows.
“Covid helped shine a bright light on the need to digitally transform,” Stroud explains. “It became very clear overnight that organizations that had not focused their attention on employee experience were behind.”
Ashby agrees that digital channels will play an even more important role for both EX and CX. In particular, self-service technology, built on smart digital workflows, will create a virtuous circle.
He explains: “Automated self-service lowers operating costs, but it’s also exactly what you want as a customer. You want to be able to self-serve, easily and 24/7. So what started off as a cost reduction actually improves the customer experience. At the same time, on the employee side, self-service eliminates boring, repetitive tasks.”
How To Forge New Connections
For those executives looking to create positive, profitable connections between their employee and customer experiences, Stroud and Ashby offer this advice.
Assemble the right team: “Think with a growth mindset and put together a team of people who are comfortable with change and see change as an opportunity,” Stroud recommends.
Stay focused: Stroud warns against getting distracted by all the new technology that’s available. Focus on your strategy and your vision, she says. “Ensure that you understand what it is you want to bring—not just to the business, but to employees.”
Measure employee satisfaction: EX leaders can adopt measurement tools from CX, such as net promoter score, or NPS, says Ashby. “Just as you would expect to measure customer NPS,” Ashby says, “employee NPS is just the other side of the coin. It’s a natural evolution.”
Stop making excuses: “There are plenty of organizations that, when you call them, you’re told, ‘We’re sorry it’s taking so long to get to your call, it’s all because of Covid,’” Ashby says. This “is not acceptable today, [and] organizations are going to suffer if they haven’t figured out a solution yet.”
Creating a positive employee experience has often taken a back seat to the customer experience. Happy customers were simply seen as more valuable than happy employees. That’s changing, thanks in large part to powerful new workflow products that make it easier to unite EX and CX—and, in turn, benefit the bottom line.