How Employee Engagement Drives Customer Experience

As the pendulum of innovation swings back to the middle, we’re seeing more emphasis on humans and how technology affects us. After all, technological advancements were made to benefit humans. So, when designing services and the customer experience, the end beneficiary is always the human.

In this era of digital transformations — with sophistication in cloud capabilities and a focus the customer experience — we need to keep focus on who provides the services, who designs the products and who delivers to the customer. That who is a human — and that human is a team member in your company.

We’ve talked about how essential it is to map our employees experience along with our customers’ experience to identify critical moments in a journey. Now that we see how the experiences are intertwined, let’s focus on engagement.

Creating emotional connections will better equip and empower our employees to deliver the best experiences for our customers during their journeys.

A Look at Engagement
The word “engagement” originated in the mid-16th and 17th centuries from Middle English and French. Essentially, it means to “pledge oneself,” “enter into contract” or “involve oneself in an activity.” Now think about this in the context of company culture. You might have visions of ping-pong tables, cafeterias with free snacks and lunches, and regular happy hours. While all of those are great — and can be bucketed into the category of “activity” — are they enough?

Today’s employees want more than just activities; employees spend more time at their place of employment within a day than anywhere else. So yes, having the fun activity is nice. But that’s not really why they keep coming back.

Activities are merely perks that can help in some aspects of employee satisfaction. But those activities don’t equal engagement. Employee satisfaction, like customer satisfaction, is only about a particular moment in time of how content or how unhappy they are. It’s not a measure of levels of motivation, dedication, or emotional connection and commitment.

Employee engagement is about meeting the needs of each team members — their passions and commitment to perform, to go beyond simply fulfilling the tasks of their job. Much like defining what a customer experience is for your company, it’s critical for you to define what engagement means so you can design the right experience for your employees.

Pyramids of Values

Recall the basics of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Actions are based on the innate human desire to fulfill needs — from the basic (food and shelter) to the more complex (building self-esteem or becoming more altruistic). As a human matures, they climb this pyramid to reach the apex of self-actualization.

As part of your engagement strategy, think about what your employees’ hierarchy of needs could include — from receiving a paycheck (basic) to achieving leadership roles or becoming a mentor (complex). To reach the apex, employees mature, for example, by gathering new skills or creating lasting, positive behaviors.  These are all things your employee engagement practice must design to help move your employee to reach their individual apex.

Because we’re working with humans, it makes sense that these hierarchy of needs can be translated to customer experiences.

Bain and Company introduced its B2B elements of value in which it identified 40 elements along five categories to better understand what customers want. This helps organizations see how, like Maslow’s hierarchy, customer needs, expectations and behaviors change as they mature and move toward the apex. That apex is not unlike the original hierarchy of needs; it’s about purpose and becoming the best version of oneself (as a person or as a business).

Aligning to Purpose

Customers are quick to buy from, or advocate for, a brand because it matches their beliefs. I know I visit the same coffee shop and buy the same brand coffee beans because those companies are committed to being fair trade. I’m loyal to them because there’s an alignment in our core beliefs and it serves a greater purpose.

To create an effective employee engagement practice, you must align it to your greater corporate strategy and vision. As humans, we strive to fulfill more complex needs. And, just as customers who are aligned to your business purpose and vision become your biggest fans, so do your employees.

Aligning an employee’s why to your corporate why allows them to fulfill their needs. It gives them motivation to do more and become more vested to show up and become the best versions of themselves. As a result, your customer experience improves as your team members perform at higher levels.

As with anything, this takes practice. Designing an employee experience and engagement practice is just as complex and rewarding as designing a solid customer experience and engagement practice. Remember: To define it, you need to understand the mechanics and levers of what your employees value — and then align your purpose to their purpose.

This infographic offers information on ways to improve the employee experience and employee engagement, satisfy your customers, and provide a great customer experience