Why You Should Focus on EX
By Charlie Adams, Head of Customer Excellence at Castles Technology
At every conference I go to, I notice that delegates are starting to talk more about the importance of the Employee Experience (EX), so it’s no surprise to anyone that EX matters. However, whilst there is a smattering of slides about EX, it is not getting as much focus as CX. This is an issue the CX industry is slowly realising and resolving… with emphasis on slowly.
It all starts in the businesses and organisations who are driving the change; so, if we’re all focused on CX at customer conferences, it’s because that’s what the businesses are focusing on, and their priorities are clear by their actions. Don’t get me wrong, driving change in Customer Experience is absolutely fantastic and should be getting investment… but this transformation has been comfortably ticking along for a while now and we can’t let Employee Experience take a back seat.
I am writing this from a point of change, as we are seeing great examples of how EX and CX can go hand in hand with equal measure more and more. My hope is that this short article will help cement this view of EX alongside CX, so it becomes more than just a folk law that a few innovative companies talk about and instead becomes central to the CX world.
It makes business sense, with companies that are highly engaged in EX boasting improved NPS and revenue.
When asked “Which is more important CX or EX?” the overwhelming majority of people tend to say that both are equally important. This would lead you to believe that whenever CX is discussed in business (and at conferences), EX gets equal airtime. But it doesn’t.
“Why spend time focusing on Employee Experience when you want to improve the Customer Experience?”
When you only have a finite amount of time, a limited budget, and limited resources, you have to carefully choose what projects and changes you want to implement to improve the Customer Experience. Naturally you’d assume that ALL of your time, budget and resources should therefore be focused on the Customer Experience alone, as that is what you want to improve… but, you know to never assume!
When you realise that it’s the Employees who
- interact with the customer,
- are the voice of the company,
- champion the customers,
- create the journeys,
- design the interfaces, systems, and products,
you realise that maybe you should change your assumption, and spare some of that time, budget and resources to focus on creating a great Employee Experience (EX).
WHAT IS EX?
It’s important to stress that EX isn’t a nice add-on that you do a bit of to keep the employees happy; it’s integral to your CX strategy. You may work in a nice company where Employee Engagement is handled by a lovely People Team, which is great and the right way to structure it, but don’t let this fool you into thinking that this means all EX is under control and being handled by them. When we talk about EX in a CX context, it starts to become more than giving people fruit in the morning.
Weave Employee Experience into the Customer Experience journey at every touchpoint and in between. When Customers interact with a company, there is an Employee at the other end of that interaction, whether directly (on the telephone) or indirectly (designing the interface), so you have to take into account EVERYONE that is part of the experience (both Customer and Employee). By making sure all parties are taken into account when designing the strategy, you will make sure that EX is integral to CX… they are not 2 separate things (at least not anymore).
For example, businesses and most contact centres will be using a CRM system, a system that records all customer information, including the interactions and communications that take place. This is a system that the Employees use every day to carry out their roles. For contact centres especially this system has to be used efficiently with the Employee expected to be an expert in controlling a caring, empathetic, accurate conversation with the customer all whilst navigating a computer system with hundreds of options and fields to complete. And, they must somehow spare some focus to keep their AHT down to keep the stakeholders happy.
Yet… when the project team and leaders get together to design and implement a new system, the first focus is (usually) what is needed for the Customer: “What outcome does the customer want?”, “What information do we want to collect?”, “What scripts do we need?”, “What do we need to cover for data protection?”. Questions about the Employee Experience come in secondary.
The focus and priority at the START needs to be the EX: “What do the agents want?”, “What do they need?”, “What would make their role easier?”, “What would make it more fun and enjoyable?”.
Note: Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking improving EX means making calls quicker and improving AHT. Whilst this may be an output of improving EX, this is not the aim or focus (employees will not thank you for making their calls quick so they have to take more calls).
WHAT IS EX THOUGH?
Before we find a conclusion to this, we need to take a moment to agree on what EX really is, so I’ll keep it simple. Employee Experience is how the employees feel.
Feelings can sometimes seem intangible when writing business strategies and approving budgets, but you have to remember the business is made up of humans. Humans by their nature are a big ball of emotions. We feel everything. It drives our thoughts, our actions, our words, our relationships, and our productivity.
The good news is that EX, just like CX, can be measured. Employee Surveys and Pulse Checks come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure you measure these feelings and deploy these measures and expectations in your strategy (you can focus on EX and keep the stakeholders happy).
EX EQUALS CX
To remove any doubt or confusion let’s be really clear: EX = CX.
Loyal and Happy Employees = Loyal and Happy Customers
With everything around us inputting into our experience of life and impacting our emotions, it should go without question that our experience at work (EX) should be the single biggest priority for any company.
A great or poor Employee Experience leads to a great or poor Customer Experience. Start at the beginning, look closer to home for the improvements and make EX your key focus.
About the author
Charlie is a Customer Service and Customer Experience operations specialist. Originally trained in design, Charlie has a unique 20-year background in customer service and leadership, with an eclectic career spanning mobile telecoms, construction, renewable energy, UK mapping and finance. He brings a simple and fresh way of thinking to customer service operations, with a huge focus on the people and always going back to his university training to KISS (keep it simple stupid).