Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds Your Customers

Why employee experience mustn’t play second fiddle to customer experience

Customer experience—from first impression through the life of the relationship—plays a crucial role in business today; no organization would argue with that. Forbes recently even went so far as to call it “the new brand” and asserted that “focusing on customer experience management may be the single most important investment a brand can make.”[1]


But let’s think for a moment about the engine driving customer experience. Technology plays a large role, to be sure, and of course the importance of data and analytics to guide decision-making can’t be underestimated. But behind even those critical components, the real force is a company’s people.

Gallup describes employee experience as a journey an employee takes with any organization—the “big picture that ties together all of your efforts to attract, engage, and develop your employees.”[2] It’s a widely accepted notion that employee engagement and satisfaction can affect every aspect of a company, from recruiting, retention, and culture ultimately through to customer experience and the bottom line. Richard Branson famously wrote, “Your employees are your company’s real competitive advantage. They’re the ones making the magic happen—so long as their needs are being met.”[3]

company culture-1

A widely accepted notion, and yet, according to a Deloitte survey, only 22 percent of executives reported their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.[4] In this age of agility, transparency, and the growing influence of millennials who expect their career journeys to be fulfilling, engaging, and flexible, shouldn’t the employee experience be as important as the customer experience? Data shows companies agree, even if they may not know how to get there: In that same Deloitte survey, nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience as very important or important.[5]

Harvard Business Review notes old HR systems based on rules and bureaucracy are no longer justified in today’s business world where agility is increasingly prized, leading to a long-awaited overhaul of talent management principles and systems in favor of a simpler and faster model driven by participant feedback.[6]Deloitte explains it this way in its Global Human Capital Trends Report: “Just as marketing and product teams have moved beyond customer satisfaction to look at total customer experience, so is HR refocusing its efforts on building programs, strategies, and teams that understand and continuously improve the entire employee experience.”[7]

Deloitte elaborates by explaining the employee experience goes beyond a narrow focus on employee engagement and culture, shifting the view to an integrated focus and “bringing together all the workplace, HR, and management practices that impact people on the job.”[viii]Gallup suggests the employee experience must take into account seven stages of the employee life cycle: attract, hire, onboard, engage, perform, develop, and depart.[ix]In other words, just exactly like we started off this post: from first impression through the life of the relationship.

In a time when it seems employees are always on the hunt for the next right opportunity, you can’t afford not to give them the same time and consideration that you’re giving your customers. Only everything depends on it.

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