Happier Together: 4 Steps for Merging the Customer and Employee Journeys

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That buzz you’re hearing around customer experience? These days it’s more like a roar (unless your head is stuck firmly in the sand). And marketing decision makers are listening: Some 32 percent of B2C CMOs see improving customer experience as one of their top three objectives over the next year, according to Forrester. For those that put in the hard work, the results are compelling: 84 percent of organizations actively aiming to improve CX report a resulting increase in revenue.

Despite this growing attention to customer experience, one component is still commonly overlooked: the employees responsible for delivering it. Many initiatives rightly focus on customer experience design—the technology and the physical environment—yet fail to realize these are only part of the equation. This oversight can topple your entire house of cards. On the other hand, prioritizing the experience your employees are having will drive even greater business outcomes.

While most successful organizations today have broad-based customer experience initiatives and some method in place to track customer satisfaction, far fewer have formal employee experience programs. Even those that do should stop thinking about customer experience and employee experience as separate initiatives. The surest path to happier employees and happier customers (and bottom-line revenue growth) is to look at the experience both are having together.

But how do you know what’s really fundamental to both your customers’ and your employees’ relationship with your brand? And how do you ensure you’re tracking the stuff that counts? These four steps will get you started:  

1. Map the customer and employee journeys.

Any experience initiative should start with a baseline understanding of what is happening in your organization today. For both customers and employees, it’s critical to map the end-to-end journeys that they’re taking—from their very first interactions with you to their very last.

Let’s start with the customer journey. Although we typically present the purchase path as linear, in reality, it’s anything but. Here’s a more realistic purchase path:

What this image doesn’t capture is all the attempts at interaction you’ve tried to make with the customer along the way. Getting your message in front of customers when they’re in the right frame of mind to receive them is a pretty complex task. Managing the entire customer life cycle is challenging, but absolutely critical.

The goal of journey mapping is to fully understand all of the ways a customer can interact with you across their entire customer life cycle. Today’s customers no longer differentiate by channel. To them, every interaction with you is like every other, and they expect the same treatment from you no matter when or how they’re interacting with you.

Some customer and employee journey points have obvious connections. A customer goes to the store; they interact with a sales associate. They have a problem; they contact the call center. But the so-called “automated” interactions—emails, website visits, online advertising—still require human intervention; they are still driven by employees. And if those employees aren’t engaged, those experiences are not going to be as good.

At the highest level, the employee journey follows a progression something like this:

Recruiting lasts from the moment an employee considers applying for a job with your company until the minute they start. This includes how they found you, how easy it was to apply, how quickly the interview process went, and how often they were communicated with along the way.

On-boarding is a similarly complicated process that may involve activities like filling out paperwork, obtaining a photo badge, setting up technology, attending training, meeting with the boss, and getting integrated with the team. On-boarding can take anywhere from a few days to a year, depending on the company and the role.

Daily life is perhaps the most complex of the employee journey stages, yet it’s often considered very superficially: “How happy are you?” This answer, though, is affected by a number of variables including whether you have the right tools for your job, whether you’re recognized for your work, how good your leaders are, and whether you have development opportunities.

The last part of the employee journey, separation, gets the least amount of love because no one really wants to think about employees leaving, yet you can learn so much from this stage: Who is leaving? Why are they leaving? What factors seem to contribute most to their departure? And what is their likelihood of coming back?

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