To Improve Customer Experience, Engage Your Employees

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In our annual listing of customer experience (CX) trends, Temkin Group named 2015 "The Year of the Employee."

We've recently seen a surge in companies looking to build more customer-centric cultures and train their people on CX. Voice-of-the-employee (VOE) efforts are becoming an integral component of modern voice-of-the-customer programs. Taken together, this new emphasis on culture, training, and VOE will put employees at the center of CX attention this year.


Why are companies turning their CX attention inward? Because, in CX leadership and other areas, employees are the secret sauce for ongoing success.

Engaged employees are the starting point for many good outcomes for an organization. In our "Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2014," we found that 74 percent of employees at companies with above average CX in their industry feel highly or moderately engaged, as opposed to only 31 percent at other companies.

It's no accident that CX leaders have almost 2.5 times more engaged employees. When compared with disengaged employees, highly engaged employees are more than three times as likely to do something good for their employer, even if it's not expected of them; almost three times as likely to make a recommendation about an improvement at work; more than 2.5 times as likely to stay late at work if something needs to be done; and more than two times as likely to help someone else at work.


The Temkin Group has studied thousands of U.S. employees and identified a set of attitudes that strongly correlate to engaged, productive employees. Using that information, we developed an employee engagement index based on the extent to which employees agreed with the following statements:

  • I understand the overall mission of my company.
  • My company asks for my feedback and acts upon my input.
  • My company provides me with the training and the tools that I need to be successful.

Based on our most recent study of more than 5,000 U.S. employees, we found that 55 percent are moderately or highly engaged, a modest decline from the 57 percent from our previous year's study. Furthermore, smaller companies tend to have higher engagement levels. About 60 percent of employees working in the smallest companies we looked at, with 100 employees or less, are moderately or highly engaged, compared with only 49 percent of employees at the largest companies, with more than 10,000 employees.

The research also shows that engaged employees tend to have more customer contact, higher positions within their organization, earn more money, and have higher levels of education.


How can you engage employees? Embrace what we call the Five Is of Employee Engagement:

  • Inform: Provide employees with the information they need to understand the organization's vision and brand values, along with evidence of how customers feel about the organization.
  • Inspire: Connect employees to the organization's vision and values, instilling within them a belief that these matter and encouraging them to take pride in their job and organization.
  • Instruct: Support employees with training, coaching, and feedback to successfully deliver the organization's brand promises to customers.
  • Involve: Take action with employees when designing their jobs, improving work processes, and solving the problems identified through customer or employee feedback.
  • Incent: Deploy appropriate systems to measure, reward, and reinforce desired behaviors and motivate employees to give their best.

When we evaluated the employee engagement efforts for nearly 200 large companies, we found that fewer than one in five companies earned strong ratings.

Unengaged employees can't create engaged customers. Chances are good that you have a lot of opportunities for improvement.

Bruce Temkin is customer experience transformist and managing partner of Temkin Group, a research and consultancy firm focused on enterprise-wide customer experience transformation. He is also the chair and cofounder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org) and author of the blog Customer Experience Matters (experiencematters.wordpress.com)

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