Employee Engagement and Customer Experience

How close are your Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Strategies?

The parallel between Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Strategies is closer than you may think.

Double acts have long been part of many peoples lives, from Morecambe & Wise, Penn & Teller or even Cake & Custard. These have each had their own success and in business, there are two things that I believe you should look at together. Not as a comedy, magic act or dessert, but, together as one that can deliver you real bottom-line results, if taken seriously. This double act is “Employee Engagement” and “Customer Experience”.


“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup

There should be a clear alignment between these two, let me explain further.

Many studies have shown that there is a strong link between an engaged workforce and a satisfied customer base. One of these studies conducted by CX Measurement Experts Foresee shows the correlation between these 2 measures:


Customer Experience and Employee Engagement graph

The link between Customer Experience and Employee Engagement provided by Foresee

If, Happy Employees = Happy Customers then, why do I still hear stories that are part and parcel of some organisations DNA today, they command and control, or rule by fear yet outwardly express their desire to satisfy customers.

Have you ever worked in an organisation where the person who normally sits next to you is not in today with the reasons unknown? Then a few weeks later a “pursuing other opportunities” email hits your inbox late one Friday afternoon.

Consider how this makes or would make you feel?

And, how did/would you feel during those few weeks? Worried about your colleague and your own job? more than putting the customer at the fore of your mind?

This is just one example and hopefully a rare one.

Other examples of ways to see the strain on employees, is the level of unpaid overtime or working many hours to “get the job done”. I have been guilty of this and at times still am. This should not be an expected state each day or week and should be the exception.

What do employees want?

A lot of organisations I have asked have an annual employee engagement survey to understand how engaged their workforce is. Is this enough? and how can you truly understand how engaged your people are if you ask them once a year. Some organisations even measure managers on completion rates of these surveys. Are you really getting the truth from your people? I would say not and suggest:

Ask often and ensure a safe environment is provided for the feedback

Reward and recognition feature high in most “wants” from employees when asked. This does not have to always be monetary and in some instances, a ‘thank you’ is enough. When was the last time you said it to each member of your team?

You may think that some don’t deserve it. If not, why do they not? Is there anything about the environment they work in that is driving their behaviour?

Richard Branson Employee Engagement

The parallel between Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Strategies

As an organisation, you need to ensure there is a parallel with your employee engagement strategy and your customer experience one. You cannot and should not really have one without the other if you genuinely want to be customer-centric. Unless that is you are just after a badge or Customer Experience (CX) certificate to stick on your fridge.

The actions you deliver are a truer measure of success. It is generally perceived the most impactful Customer Experience actions to deliver are systemic ones e.g. a new website or a new computer system. I would, however, encourage as much, if not more effort needs to go on the cultural and process improvements to really deliver you lasting results.

The way people in your organisation are treated can manifest itself as a direct reflection on your overall performance. What I am not saying is to give everyone a pay rise, but, create an environment that allows them to deliver for your customers.

You may be a senior leader or manager. If so, your employees could be your customers, and as my mum always told me “treat people as you would want to be treated yourself”, is that too much to ask for everyone?

Who wins the employee or the customer?

It is a complete win-win situation. Whilst engaged employees to lead to satisfied customers, the opposite is also true. Satisfied customers play a large role in employee engagement.

Positive customer experiences and showcasing these back to employees is vital especially those responsible for delivering that specific experience. This can reinforce how employees feel about the value and purpose of their work. If done correctly it can also motivate them to continue to deliver to this level.

Don’t forget though, as I am talking about acting on a plan another thing that can impact employee engagement is how you approach change. Change is uncomfortable for many people. Whether the first day you go to school or any act that challenges your comfort levels needs to be managed carefully.

A few pointers on how to effectively deal with change for the employees.

• You need to clearly articulate WHY there is a need for change but not from the perspective of the business, WHY is it better for the individual. These messages may need to be adapted for different levels or areas of the business, but, it needs to be centric to the individual receiving the message.

• Be inclusive where possible, I am a big believer in “the person who does the work knows most about it”, therefore why not include them in the discussions and development. Where possible also include customers to ensure what you develop is fit for the employee and meets the specific needs of your customer.

What is needed to succeed?

So, with both Employee Engagement and Customer Experience, I believe the 4 critical success factors are:

1. A shared vision
2. Ask often
3. Analyse results
4. Act with purpose

Is this anything to do with Lean?

Respect for people” and “Continuous Improvement” are the key principles of Lean. A simple definition of the ‘Respect for people’ principle cannot fully capture its meaning. However, “People” is not just employees. Above I talk about 2 different sets of people both customers and employees, but you need to consider all people whether they be employees, suppliers, customers, communities, and competitors – ultimately anyone.

Ultimately ensure your system/process is aligned to deliver maximum value for all ‘people’.

Therefore, aligning your Employee Engagement and Customer Experience strategies are ultimately the key to your organisation’s success.

Finally, if after reading this you are confused like me as to why businesses are not taking this more seriously. Then let’s talk. Or even better, let’s get together and figure out what we can do about it. Contact me at Lee.Houghton@leanconsulting.com or via my LinkedIn profile