In most organizations, customer experience initiatives are designed, executed, and owned by marketing or operations. We see more CX-specific leaders and departments coming online as well in an attempt to move more of the organization towards customer centricity.
Regardless of who “owns” customer experience, their view is inherently limited to the types and frequency of interactions they have with your customers. This produces blind spots in the holistic lens of customer experience. This limited view causes over-generalizations based on non-representative samples of Voice of Customer data (VoC), shared mythologies generated by compelling anecdotes, and often misses key attributes in the customer experience. Unless CX “owners” are keenly aware of these blind spots, the particular data they’re privy to can actually create a form of skewed groupthink, obscuring the broader truths that exist in customer-brand interactions.
Enter Voice of Employee.
Voice of Employee
We hear a lot about the impact Employee Engagement has on Customer Experience. Most times, Employee Engagement is viewed in a vacuum. Every year or year-and-a-half, the Human Resources department trots out a survey asking employees to rate their satisfaction with various aspects of their jobs: benefits, pay, management, work-life balance, and so on. Rarely, if ever are employees explicitly asked about their perspectives on the customer experience. What are their perceptions of what’s working, and what’s not—and more importantly—why? What would they recommend as solutions? What new ideas do they have to improve how your brand delivers on customer expectations? This is Voice of Employee.
Forrester Research defines Voice of Employee (VoE) as “Any feedback from employees or partners that pertains to their ability to deliver great customer experiences.” Without it, you have a huge blind spot in understanding your customer experience, and in achieving positive relationships and business outcomes.
A Frontline View
Your employees are the face of your company. They are the primary representatives and executioners of the company’s customer experience. Not only do employees interact with customers, they often have a broader view of the operational performance of your organization. Think of it this way: While a single customer can share his/her perceptions of their experiences at specific touchpoints and throughout their journeys, they provide an important, but limited, sample size of one. A single employee, on the other hand, may interact with hundreds of customers each day and therefore the depth of their feedback around the customer experience is much greater. Also, the breadth of their perspective is greater as they can see all of the elements that contribute to a good or bad experience. The elements that may frustrate an employee, whether it be making a customer wait in line, poor service from customer care or billing, or any myriad of issues, are often the same things that frustrate customers.
And their perspectives contain unique and powerful insights. A recent survey by CustomerThink of CX leaders in business-to-business organizations reported that two-thirds of those leaders feel employees are the top source of actionable insights about the customer experience.
If employees can provide you with such a large percentage of actionable, success-driving insights, asking for their opinion cannot be relegated only to the normal 18-to-24-month Employee Engagement survey cycle. As gold mines of insight-laden information, smart brands should provide a variety of employee feedback forums.
Owning the Experience
Soliciting employees for feedback about the customer experience comes with other benefits. Asking for their best ideas and opinions creates a sense of respect and value from the organization and its leaders. Unlike scheduled employee surveys, the process of gathering VoE feedback is, in and of itself, an engaging experience. Essentially, it tells employees that they matter and that they have ownership in customer experience, significantly increasing the likelihood your CX initiatives will achieve the desired results.
Broadening Your Perspective
The key to broadening your perspective of the customer experience is to listen through multiple channels to multiple stakeholders. After customers, employees are the next stakeholder group you must tap into in order to gain an increasingly broad and deep understanding of how all of the factors in your organization are coming together to deliver on what you’ve promised. Just like your customers, your employees are able and willing to help you succeed. If you let them.