For any organization, there's an inextricable link between the employee and the customer's company experience. In fact, each informs the other. Engaged employees will provide positive customer experiences, while satisfied customers will serve to boost employee engagement. Consider, also, that employees — or their families, friends and relatives — may also be customers of the organization. The many hats people wear these days — online and off — mean that experiences with organizations must be consistent, whether the person is an employee or customer. How can you evaluate your customer experience and apply the lessons learned to keep your employees happy? Partnering with HR is the beginning.
Company Experience: What Do You Want the Market to Know?
A critical first step is aligning the customer experience with desired brand attributes. Organizations don't always define their brands— consumers do. But, organizations can, and should, work to manage their brands effectively. That starts with agreeing to the key brand attributes that the organization wishes to be valued for. Those attributes will vary by organization, but could include such things as excellence, service or affordability.
Once that list has been developed and agreed upon, it's important to do a reality check to determine whether, and to what extent, customers believe that the organization, its products and services — and its employees — exemplify those attributes. What will emerge from this analysis is an indication of areas where you may be exceeding, or failing to meet, your expectations of how you wish your organization to be viewed. Areas where you're not meeting expectations — gaps — can be a good starting point for identifying ways in which employees can play an important role in closing those gaps.
Managing the Gaps
Suppose one of the brand attributes an organization wishes to be known for is its high-quality product. But, when customers are surveyed they indicate that they'd collectively rate the business as a four on a scale up to 10 (with 10 being high), when it comes to product quality. Do employees have a role to play in boosting quality? The answer is yes. But they need to have the right tools, training and support to serve effectively in this role. Put training initiatives in place to address specific areas of opportunity for improvement. You can begin calculating the ROI by the following:
- Tracking potential savings that might occur through fewer errors, which have a direct tie to customer satisfaction
- Customer response to questions related to "would you recommend" (generally referred to as a Net Promoter Score — NPS)
- Using other metrics that can be drawn between business actions and customer and employee satisfaction
A Role for Finance, HR and Marketing
Effectively managing employee and customer actions and perceptions requires a partnership and collaboration between the corporate functions of finance, HR and marketing, among others. Finance leaders can help to cultivate these relationships by helping HR and marketing quantify the impacts their efforts have on the organization's bottom line. Managing the company experience matters — for everyone.
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