One of the most common questions we get from organizations is, “How can we align our employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) efforts?” Increasingly, we see organizations recognize that a meaningful connection exists. Models such as the service-profit-chain and the employee engagement virtuous cycle illustrate how and why EX and CX are interrelated. Our research at Qualtrics XM Institute goes further, to show that investments in both EX and CX have positive impacts on business performance.
With the connection conceptually established, CX and EX leaders must make it real inside their organization’s walls. We hear things like, “We want business leaders to care equally about both,” “We want to understand how EX drives CX” or “We want to show the value of our EX efforts by linking them to CX.” But success in building this connection does not mean simply merging your available CX and EX data into one dashboard or report. Fundamentally, it’s about connecting the understanding of how well the organization is delivering on its brand promises to customers, with how the organization equips and enables employees to deliver on those brand promises. The ultimate goal is to use this understanding to drive business value by creating meaningful connections between employees and customers.
Embracing a connected strategy allows organizations to:
- Support employees in sharing their perceptions of and ideas to improve their experiences and the experiences of customers.
- Connect employees — through customer feedback — with how customers perceive experiences, deepening their understanding of customers’ needs and expectations and the impact they have in their roles.
- Ignite every employee to understand the organization’s CX vision and take action to improve the customer experiences they influence, no matter their role.
- Engage executives and managers in leveraging both employee and customer feedback so they can take the right actions and make the right decisions for their teams and the organization at large.
4 First Steps to Connect CX and EX Insights
Organizations can align their CX and EX efforts in a number of ways. Two common starting points are presenting CX and EX insights in a single view and analyzing the linkages between the data to understand how each affects the other. But for these to deliver value, an organization has to lay the groundwork before combining data with these first four steps:
1. Define Desired Outcomes
Before any work with data begins, first determine what the organization wants to accomplish by bringing CX and EX together and what business outcomes you are trying to impact. Key questions to answer include: What will this analysis help you do — for employees and for customers? What is happening in the business that makes this important right now? What result are you trying to drive for the business — retention, renewal, cost reduction, something else?
2. Identify the Measures for Alignment
Once your outcomes have been identified, you can now determine the data you will need. This step includes determining what CX and EX measures must be in place to generate the insights you need — including the questions to ask, the scales to use, and the methodology around how you gather the data to generate the actionable insights you need.
3. Adapt Current Measurement Approaches
Next up is making the necessary changes to your current approaches to support combined reporting and analysis. To bring CX and EX data together requires 1) consistent data structures and shared units of analysis, 2) appropriate timing of data collection (including how to manage typically more dynamic, continuously collected CX data vs. static, periodically collected EX data), 3) leveraging the right survey types (e.g., metrics from relational employee measurements like engagement surveys generally predict customer reactions and attitudes better than transactional employee feedback)) and 4) controls for confidentiality of EX data (including reporting by organizational hierarchy and not 1:1 customer-employee interactions).
4. Assess Cultural Readiness
The final, important step as you implement your combined CX and EX strategy is to prepare the organization to successfully take action on what it learns. This means ensuring the right mindsets and behaviors are in place so the insights and resulting actions enhance your culture and don’t erode engagement or damage experiences. Consider these four areas and invest the necessary time to foster the best environment possible:
- Current feedback culture: What are your current levels of employee trust around feedback and measurement? What behaviors and routines support other feedback mechanisms in place today?
- Transparency: Have you prepared clear communications around new data and analysis — before, during, and after the insights are being gathered, shared and acted upon?
- Change orientation and readiness to act to improve EX and CX: Do you have processes in place to drive improvements in EX to improve CX? Do you have the time, budget, people and desire/commitment?
- System of Accountability: How are you preparing and supporting leaders and managers to discuss why this is important, how to review results, coach behaviors, etc.?
Employees across the organization can bring incredible value and power to fuel your CX efforts. We know that employees are looking for meaning and purpose in their work — and a very tangible way to bring that to life is to help employees see the impact they have on customers, whether or not they directly interact with them. Taking a connected approach to understand CX and EX together can be an effective lever for the organization to ultimately deliver better experiences to customers and employees.
Aimee Lucas, CCXP, XMP is the Director of Qualtrics’ CX Center of Excellence and serves as adjunct faculty for the Qualtrics XM Institute. Aimee has over 18 years of experience improving service delivery and transforming customer and employee experiences through people development and process improvement initiatives as an experience management practitioner, researcher, and advisor.
Dr. Benjamin Granger is Head of EX Advisory Services and serves as Adjunct Faculty for the Qualtrics XM Institute. He has over a decade of experience building experience management (XM) programs across the globe and leads EX thought leadership and research initiatives within the XM Institute.