The link between employee experience and customer experience

A customer's experience with an organization is only as good as an employee's experience. Business leaders should know that empathy is key to employee and customer success.

A successful organization depends on positive CX, which starts with its first customers -- its employees.

Many customer-centric organizations have found CX success by putting employees first, rather than customers, CX specialist and author Ian Golding said. CX often reflects how the organization's employees feel about their work, so satisfied and supported employees are more likely to enable positive customer experiences. Empathy is key and can help organizations build trust and enable a loyal customer base.

In his self-published book, Customer What?, Golding takes readers through CX basics and discusses the direct link between employee and customer experiences.

"The biggest underlying principle of customer experience is the principle of empathy," Golding said. "But empathy isn't just towards the customer. It has to be towards your employees. … If you don't get it right for your people, they won't get it right for your customer."

CX reflects employee experience

Many organizations struggle with the disconnect between business leaders and employees, which creates a siloed culture. If leaders make decisions without employee insights, those silos can get worse.

CX professionals must know -- and ensure business leaders know -- how it feels to work in their organization, Golding wrote. In Chapter 4, "Employees," Golding discussed how leaders must be able to trust employees and vice versa. When managers understand employee satisfaction levels, they better understand how customers view the organization.

An image of the book cover for Customer What?Click here to learn more
about this book.

"If a business cares for its people, and they feel engaged and empowered, in turn they will care for the customers of that business," Golding wrote. "If your business does not care for its people, your customers will interact with disengaged, unhappy employees, and disengagement and unhappiness is what they will remember about the experience."

CX directly reflects employee experience. Therefore, CX professionals must hold up a mirror to everyone in the organization and view their strategies, roles and actions as customers. Employees may also be more apt to embrace a CX strategy if CX professionals can show how these strategies affect employees individually and where their roles fit into CX.

COVID-19's effect on employee and customer experiences

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the link between employee and customer experiences, as it affected the people themselves. Many employees became burnt out from remote work, which can negatively affect CX if organizations don't properly address burnout.

Ian GoldingIan Golding

"My worry is that people have become so stretched … as a result of the pandemic. We've got too much to do. People aren't thinking," Golding said. "And that is, I think, hugely dangerous because, if you're not thinking, you're not saying to yourself, 'How would the customer feel if I do that?' And, if you're not thinking that, then you'll be doing things to customers they're not going to forget."

The effects of the pandemic still play a critical role in the link between employee and customer experiences because it forced organizations to pay more attention to employees and understand how taking care of them helped take care of customers. It also introduced new ways for employees to get together online -- and even meet people they never would've met before due to organizational silos.

If you don't get it right for your people, they won't get it right for your customer.
Ian GoldingAuthor, 'Customer What?'

Those silos often feel impenetrable, according to Golding. "I believe we have to make a conscious effort to help our people meet and network with colleagues. This is just as important as knowing our customers," he wrote.

Organizations can't claim to understand their customers until they understand the people directly interacting with them. With a foundation of empathy, organizations can operate with an understanding of what it means to work there and the levels of employee engagement. Yet, this approach takes time.

CX strategies are long-term investments

CX professionals can't develop, roll out and transform into a customer-centric company overnight. CX strategies are long-term investments for an organization and its employees.

Financially, a CX strategy can mean hiring CX professionals or adopting new technologies to enable positive experiences. A CX strategy also means ensuring employees understand their roles in CX and how CX affects employees. When employees understand CX and its potential benefits, they are more likely to be on board with the strategy and help facilitate more positive CX long term.

Next Steps

How much can a bad review hurt your business?

Dig Deeper on Customer experience management

Content Management
Unified Communications
Data Management
Enterprise AI