Four Reasons for Combining CX and EX

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Happy employees make for happy customers. We’ve all heard that. And I believe it. But should customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) programs be combined? I wasn’t sure. After all, I considered CX and EX to be separate programs run by different departments. However, with a little thought, four discoveries changed my mind.  

1. CX and EX Have Evolved

CX and EX programs have expanded and evolved to be more holistic. Gone are the days when they were focused on simply measuring customer and employee satisfaction. CX and EX are proactive—programs focused much more on designing great experiences for customers and employees. With this in mind, it became obvious to me how these disciplines are (or should be) connected. After all, when designing ideal experiences for customers, you need to consider how it will be delivered by employees. And vice-versa: Any time you modify the role of employees, you must consider the impact on your customers.

The more I’ve considered how CX and EX have evolved, the more convinced I’ve become that they need to be aligned.  

2. Employees Know What’s Going on

Even though most companies today do a decent job of understanding their customers, I believe most fall short in asking their employees how they think their customers feel. Employees know what’s on the minds of customers. In particular, frontline employees get it. They know what customers want, how they feel, and what they complain about. And yet, most companies don’t have a regular, reliable way of gathering such input from employees.

However, some organizations have implemented VOCE, or “voice-of-the-customer-through-the-employee” programs. VOCE programs seek more than just employee opinions on what could be improved; they ask employees’ opinion on how customers feel about their experience with the company. This produces valuable insight to address the concerns of employees, as well as shortcomings in the customer experience. It’s another reason why CX and EX need to be closely aligned. An additional benefit: The simple act of asking employees for their views demonstrates the respect you have for their thoughts and opinions. That can go a long way.

3. Employees Are Part of Every Customer Solution

Maybe your company is working to improve delivery time. Or maybe you’re developing a new self-service portal. Or maybe you are transitioning customers to an improved communication platform. Whatever initiative you have in motion to improve the customer experience, I guarantee it involves employees. And it makes sense that those involved in both CX and EX should be involved and aligned before, during, and after these programs are launched.

CX leaders want to ensure that the changes are seamlessly implemented and have the desired impact. EX leaders want to ensure employees understand their new roles and believe in the changes that are under way. Working together, these leaders can do a better job developing the approach, communicating the plans, anticipating obstacles, monitoring progress, and measuring the impact.    

4. Experiences Matter More Than Ever

Finally, there is the simple fact that experiences are more important than ever. For customers, experience is often considered more important than price or quality. For employees, it’s not just about money—they expect a worthwhile experience with an organization where they can thrive.

We’ve all seen this firsthand. How many times have we chosen to shop somewhere that may be a bit higher-priced because we like the experience? And how many times have we seen people change jobs because they are seeking an experience more consistent with their values?

Experiences matter. And it makes sense for all those involved in measuring, monitoring, managing, and designing experiences to collaborate.

Where to Begin?

Looking to integrate your CX and EX programs, but wondering how to get started? Here are a few simple steps.

  • Combine teams. Begin by establishing some sort of regular meeting schedule to discuss CX and EX initiatives. Tactical project-level programs may be carried out by separate teams, but having a combined CX/EX steering team ensures everyone is aligned on the company’s experience objectives.
  • Report results together. When sharing results companywide, include the insights of customers and employees. This signals that the programs are logically intertwined, and the steering team will inevitably see new and valuable connections.
  • Create a cohesive listening plan. Consider all of your stakeholders—customers, employees, partners, vendors, and others—when developing the methods and timing of your programs. It’s another way to leverage insights from all stakeholders.

It took a little introspection for me to understand all the benefits of integrating CX and EX. Our company now has a combined program. Maybe your company should too!

Patrick Gibbons is a principal at Walker, a leading experience management services firm. He can be reached at pgibbons@walkerinfo.com. A free report on combining CX and EX can be downloaded at walkerinfo.com/resources.

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