Why employee experience is just as important as customer experience - Photo by ThisIsEngineering from PexelsThink back to the last time you were in a restaurant or bar. Ask yourself if you’d want to be part of that working culture. Were the staff happy? Were they enjoying themselves? Did they seem proud of their customer service and the venue they worked for?

This is not purely about service quality. Although for many brands, that’s a vital component of the overall brand experience. It is about something equally fundamental. When we have a good employee experience, we are far more likely to deliver a good customer experience. How employees treat a customer can invariably be traced back to how leaders and managers treat their employees. When done well, the quality of the customer experience forges our emotional connection with the brand and organisation. When an employee is giving their all to the customer, you had better believe a joyful foundation has been laid behind the scenes.

Why employee experience matters

Enhancing the employee experience is about ensuring employees have the right tools, equipment, information, and, even more importantly, the right level of empowerment. Pret a Manger is renowned for its people-first approach. The company hires people for their personality, not just their customer service experience. Pret, as a company, reminds us that the in-person experience is still special and something to be valued. As such, it allows its employees to give out one free coffee a day. This small and inexpensive act of giving its employees the agency to decide who the lucky customer is has helped ensure that Pret still sits on many street corners – even in 2022. Pret proves that treating people well at work more than pays for itself over time.

The past 12-24 months have interrupted our established ways of working. In many cases, the culture of work has been broken. One consequence is people’s re-evaluation of work – a key driver behind what is now commonly dubbed ‘the great resignation’.

How the pandemic impacted employee experience

The pandemic revealed some of the ugly realities of employee experience and productivity. For customer-facing roles, such as those working in the retail and hospitality sectors, staff have had to navigate the full spectrum of customer confidence in facing the public again. On the other side, office workers have had to relearn meeting etiquette and how to straddle an often messy hybrid environment. The Home workspace was often less efficient. It lacked many of the tools they had previously relied on or struggled with slow internet, VPN connections and the challenges of being so heavily reliant on remote tech support.

Regardless of location or type of work, every workforce has been disrupted and forced into rapid change. Organisations had to react quickly to reinvent how people work and invest in new technologies to enable them to keep working. It certainly paid off for those that responded well. In fact, recent IDC research shows that those organisations that did invest in digital transformation technologies in 2020 enjoyed a 20% increase in employee productivity (IDC’s Future Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Survey Wave 6, July 2021.)

Introduce technology with care

As new technological solutions are increasingly introduced into the workplace, how that impacts the employee experience is a paramount consideration. Brands need to invest in employee-first tech solutions. However, they also need to ask their employees what tech they want to use in the first place. Most people don’t like change, The last thing you want is to slow your employees down, frustrate them and leave them yearning for old systems or the analogue way of doing things. No matter how well the rest of the organisation runs, frustrations such as these will eventually find their way out to the customer experience.

Carefully selecting the right technology for the job is hugely beneficial. At Tribal Worldwide, we’ve found Miro – a collaborative whiteboard tool – to be a simple and flexible way of bringing internal and external teams together in open, productive conversations. It helps facilitate the development of strategies, ideas and action plans all in one place. That was achieved because we took a considered and collaborative approach to selection and onboarding, as we’d learned first-hand with many of our clients.

A lesson from Volkswagen

Over the 20 years we’ve worked with Volkswagen, we learned that you need to take a 360 perspective on how any new technology is introduced into your employee experience. Creating a tablet powered sales tool for their Retail sales teams showed it’s not just about the shiny new technology but all the enablers that need to be in place too.

So we listened to their employees and made changes big and small. We brought in enhancements across everything from good Wi-Fi and effortless charging docks through to quick and subtle ways of switching between a customer-facing and expert user mode. Then, we kept listening to make sure this tool worked for them and their customers. We supercharged the great things they already delivered within the customer experience and helped overcome shortfalls.

By collaborating on technology development, it is possible to ensure a great employee experience. One that made their lives easier and more enjoyable in ways that positively influenced the customer experience – both when directly using the tool and when not.

Delivering a good employee experience can drive a better customer experience

Treating your employees well is not a new concept. Taking tangible steps to prioritise employee experience is now an essential part of building your business and brand. Especially at a time when more people are re-evaluating their work lives. Driving operational effectiveness requires a holistic vision and where there may be discomfort at having to handle new processes and technology this requires particular care and attention. To cope with the future of work, and deliver on total experience, brands need to give the same attention to employee experience as they would customer experience – by recognising they are intrinsically linked. Remember: your employees are some of your best brand ambassadors, and collectively they have the power to elevate your customer experience and help drive growth through both calm and uncertain times.

Tribal WorldwideTribal is a Total Experience agency. We create brand experience ecosystems that help build competitive advantage for our clients. Made up of six practices – Customer Experience, Creative and Social, Tech Engineering, Business Consulting, Data Science and Innovation – they can stand apart or snap together to help our clients create hard-working and loved digital experiences. Exploring the intersection between brands, technology and real life, we develop ideas that connect with culture and uncover compelling ways that technology can add value to real people’s lives while delivering returns to our clients.


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