Employee Experience: The Importance of Treating your Employees As Customers

Ali Rodriguez
September 24, 2018

Employee Experience: The Importance of Treating your Employees As Customers

If you’ve spent any time in business you know about the importance of customer experience as a way to retain customers, reduce churn rates, and attract new customers. Similarly, in recent years top-performing companies have turned that kind of attention inwards. They’ve identified employee experience as a way to retain talent, make employees happy, attract new recruits, and ultimately be better at business.

As a result, these top-performing organizations have started to dedicate significant resources to measuring and improving how engaged and happy their employees feel. Below we’ll explore why treating your employees with the same level of care as you do your customers benefits all parties involved.

What is Employee Experience?

A lot of people believe that employee experience (EX) is synonymous with corporate culture but that’s only part of it. According to author and speaker Jacob Morgan, there are three components that make up employee experience: culture, technological environment, and physical environment.

Employee engagement chartIn this trifecta that makes up your employee experience, the culture is defined by the values and everyday actions of everyone in the company; the technological environment is composed of all the internal communication tools your employees use to communicate with each other like (Slack or internal email newsletters); and the physical environment is everything your employees can see and touch, like their desks, room temperature, social areas, and artwork.

Why is Employee Experience A Big Deal?

Employee experience is important because employees are the lifeblood of a company. Not only do your employees inform your culture and your values, but companies with great employee experience also tend to have a customer experience that is just as good. As reported by Harvard Business Review, “companies that excel at customer experience have one-and-and-half times as many engaged employees as customer experience laggards do.” More engaged employees can also mean more revenue. A different report also found that although 87% of the total global workforce is not engaged, organizations with highly engaged employees outperform their peers by 147% in earnings.

In other words, employee engagement matters a whole lot.

Besides a huge disparity in reported earnings, in the war for talent, companies with renowned employee experience will also have a recruiting advantage. “The popularity of websites including LinkedIn and Glassdoor make it much easier for prospective employees to assess the daily EX at a company they’re considering. No longer can companies hide behind employer branding campaigns or rely on skillful recruiters to position themselves among recruits,” says author and brand leadership expert Denise Lee Yohn, adding that many people use online resources to “shop” for employers with the right employee experience.

On top of finding talent, companies must make a greater effort when it comes to retaining said talent, as well. A report by Deloitte found that modern employees tend to switch jobs more frequently than in previous generations, therefore “employers must provide development more quickly, move people more regularly, provide continuous cycles of promotion, and give employees more tools to manage their own careers.”

So if you want to become more profitable, find great talent and be able to retain it. Employee experience needs to be a priority for your organization.

If you aren’t sold yet on investing in EX, let’s go over some stats that might change your mind.

3 Eye-Opening Stats About Employee Experience

    • Organizations that invest in employee experience have more than 4 times the average profit. The additionally have more than 2 times the average revenue compared to those that don’t. (Jacob Morgan via the Harvard Business Review)
  • Companies with engaged employees pull in 2.5x more revenues compared to competitors with low engagement levels. (Hay Group)

The Link Between Customer Experience and Employee Experience

“Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers.” -J.W.Marriott

It can be tempting, particularly to small businesses with limited resources, to ignore employee experience. It is easy to focus solely on short-term revenue from sales and marketing efforts. However, if you want to beat the competition, or just stay afloat, you need to think of your organization as an organism. It can only operate successfully if every area (i.e. department) is properly taken care of and healthy.

Consultants from McKinsey argue exactly that in an article titled When the Customer Experience Starts at Home.

“In our experience, successful large organizations think more and more about end-to-end transformations that focus on internal customers—their employees—as well as external ones, to gain a durable competitive edge,” they found. “The closer a company can align its commitment to customer-centricity with the interests of its employees, the closer it will get to achieving its customer-strategy goals.”

Companies that hope to reach the competitive advantages of great customer experience would be well-served by looking inward. It is necessary to generate organizational loyalty and, more importantly, employees who actually want to come into work.

Now that we’ve seen the link between customer experience and employee experience, let’s go over how to apply customer experience best practices to your employee experience strategy.

3 Customer Experience Best Practices to Apply to Employee Experience

The good news about the importance of treating your employees like customers is that you’re probably already really good at customer experience. All your HR and internal communications teams have to do now is to borrow some strategies from customer success and marketing and apply them inwardly. You’ll need to be meticulous with your metrics, use a multitouch approach, and segment your employees into specific audience groups.

1) Measure Everything

As McKinsey found in the study mentioned above, the first thing companies need to do is understand their employees’ level and drivers of satisfaction and engagement with the organization.

Human relationships can be assessed by how people talk to each other. In turn, a good way to measure engagement is to track how engaged employees are with your communications.

The same way your customer success team gathers engagement data from your clients to make sure they’re happy and to potentially upsell them, you need to start tracking your internal comms to learn how to make your employees happy. Imagine how more effective your communications team could be if you combine your super sharp intuition with objective measurable metrics. Fortunately, some of the tools available for internal communications today (like ContactMonkey, the company I work for) give you the ability to track the right metrics and really see how your HR and internal communications campaigns are actually performing.

When you track the right KPIs (key performance indicators) you’ll see exactly what you’re doing right. You will also be able to see what you’re doing wrong, and consequently, be able to send more engaging communications.

You may be asking yourself, “what to track?” Although multiple factors come into play when making sense of internal comms data, you can start by measuring employee open rates, link clicks, and location for email messages. Wherever you are now it’s not too late to start! Tracking and analyzing your internal communications at a granular level will allow you to see what resonates best with your employees. You can then create content they love consuming – content that will engage them and enhance their experience.

2) Segmentation is Key

When dealing with external customers, a common practice is to segment them into your different business verticals. Well, you can do the same with your employees by segmenting them by department, location, or even engagement rates. Segmentation will allow you to produce content that’s 100% relevant to them, leading to higher engagement rates.

For example, depending on the email marketing or tracking tool you’re using to communicate with employees, you may be able to send responsive HTML email to your segmented distribution lists or upload a specific CSV and send targeted communications. Imagine being in accounting and receiving emails whose content is all sales-related—you’d stop reading after a few! By segmenting your audience into smaller, more specific groups you’ll be able to send curated information they actually care about.

3) Use a Multi-Touch Approach

You already use multiple tools and approaches to reach out to customers and prospects. Whether it’s email newsletters, ABM campaigns, podcasts or videos, using a multi-touch approach has allowed your customer success and marketing teams to stay on top of mind and engage clients and potential leads via multiple channels.

Now it’s time for your HR and internal communications teams to do the same. By using a combination of internal newsletters, surveys, podcasts, and even video campaigns, you’ll gain an edge in the battle for your employees’ attention and engagement.

Employee Experience is the Ultimate Business Edge

Your employees are your number one asset and taking care of them to make sure they’re happy, engaged and effective requires implementing strategies that have already worked well in areas like customer experience. When you train your employees with care, treat them well, and actually listen to what they have to say, they’ll become loyal and fight for your shared goal until the end.

As Sir Richard Branson puts it, Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.

What are your thoughts on employee experience? Which internal communications tools do you use to engage employees? Let us know in the comments below. 

About the Author

Ali Rodriguez

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