Retailers have dedicated considerable effort to refining a customer’s journey but have often overlooked the critical component of improving their employees’ experience. Employee experience is integral to customer experience. Whether in day-to-day operations or a major crisis, in-person and digital employee experience transformation is the backbone of customer experience (CX) and the resulting customer lifetime value (CLV). In a strained economic environment with new flexible wo
ble work options, neither employees nor customers are loyal to their favourite companies any longer. The “great resignation” combined with the cost-of-living crisis has created a domino effect of understaffing, high employee turnover, increased customer dissatisfaction and loss of revenue for companies. Employees, particularly those in customer-facing roles, are the primary representatives of a company’s brand. Their interactions, attitudes and service levels directly shape customers’ perception of the business. As Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has said: “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.” Satisfied employees = satisfied customers When employees have a positive work experience, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated and committed to their roles. When they are stressed and unhappy, they won’t be able to deliver excellent service. Despite the mantra ‘the customer is always right’, the reality is that customers are often wrong: they may be discourteous or aggressive, their problems may be very complex and difficult to deal with, they may be impatient or even abusive. This causes immense stress for customer service staff and results in higher absenteeism and attrition. Employers also have obligations under workplace health and safety laws to ensure the wellbeing of staff. Failing to protect staff could expose employers to litigation – further damaging their brand and wider public perception. One of the problems for many customer-facing employees, particularly when dealing with challenging customer situations, is having to use old, inadequate tools and technology. According to research, while 52 per cent of C-suite members believe their corporate technology is working effectively for their customers and their employees, only 32 per cent of employees say the same. Three key obstacles to employee and customer experience transformation include: Legacy systems: outdated technology has limited functionality and performance gaps or lacks flexibility, extensibility and scalability Right systems, wrong setup: the required functionality exists or could be reasonably added, but the data and configurations need to be updated Data gaps: the data required to drive experiences is incorrect, incomplete, outdated, not captured or not available in a timely fashion. There’s not much point in having the latest bells and whistles on the front end if staff trying to offer support are struggling with inadequate and slow legacy systems. Being unable to access a customer’s account details easily or check inventory levels or shipping status results quickly is a slow and frustrating experience for both employee and customer. Brands cannot rely on their employees to think on their feet if they don’t have the tools to support them. To empower employees to truly assist customers, it’s imperative to provide them with the necessary tools, platforms and workspaces that enable a seamless and efficient interaction with customers. By equipping staff with the right resources, retailers can accelerate customer satisfaction. Investing in EX is an investment in CX In an era of tough hiring conditions, retaining good staff is critical. Employees who have a positive experience stay longer and gain deeper institutional knowledge. Well-trained, knowledgeable and experienced people are much better equipped to address customer inquiries, offer solutions and provide a high level of service. Training and upskilling staff is vital. It not only makes people more productive and useful but also makes them more likely to stay. Research shows that employees who get professional development opportunities are more engaged and have higher retention rates. Employees are also a valuable source of feedback. They interact with products, services,\ and customers daily. When they feel valued, they are more likely to share insights that can improve the customer experience. Happy employees also become active advocates for a company’s brand. They may make genuine endorsements to friends, family, or directly to customers, which can enhance a brand’s reputation and customer trust. Modern employees no longer want to work with archaic systems and disjointed platforms and processes. They aspire to work in environments that align with their preferences and expectations. The days of being stuck to the desk are becoming increasingly obsolete. Since employee experience is inseparable from the customer experience, it’s time to understand and enable employee journeys the same way we do customer journeys. Ultimately, the technology architecture for the customer and the employee experience involve the same underlying systems and data, which provide better speed of delivery, and cost and security benefits. John Costello is the chief technology officer at Publicis Sapient.