Chicken or the Egg: Start with the Customer Experience or the Employee Experience



As a follow-up to last week’s post, focusing on the customer and guest experience and the direct link to the employee experience is of utmost importance.

Customer service isn’t new to organizations, however, in some cases, we don’t give it the attention it deserves. Or we tackle it as a “project”, expecting to throw some short-term resources at to make a lasting difference. But what happens when new people start? What happens if people don’t believe you’re serious about the improvements. What happens when they feel dissatisfied, under-resourced or undervalued.

Here are a few ways to boost the customer experience, and how they can also be applied to boosting the employee experience.

1.Hidden shoppers

You have probably heard of “Mystery Shoppers.” People who pose as customers to get a “real” sense of how they are treated when no one is looking. But how do you think it makes your employees feel when they are being “spied on”? And by someone outside of the organization? Instead, could you have employees self-audit their performance, barriers to customer service, set goals for service, and identify top priorities for the day then evaluate how well they did end of shift? Can you shadow folks and talk with them about their service and learn firsthand barriers to delivering great service as well as compliment them on what’s working well as you go? If you need to do “Hidden Shoppers,” can you ensure immediate feedback loops such as same-day feedback, self-evaluations and peer-to-peer feedback is also included? In other words, use it as an opportunity to deepen awareness, surface barriers to service, and be a uniting versus “us and them” experience.

2.Customer input.

Do your staff know what customers are saying about their service? Do you share positive testimonials regularly, can staff see it in real-time, are their incentives tied to the customer experience (not just quantity-based performance metrics?) And leaders, it’s essential to communicate to staff that they matter. Get out of your office and spend time where the value is created – at the point of contact between staff and customers (internal or external customers). Understand life from the customer perspective and from the employee’s perspective serving that customer. Walk a mile in the employees shoes by serving customers and providing the service directly from time-to-time.

3.Employee input.

When issues arise – for the customer or for your staff – I can’t stress enough how important visible leadership is. Not only will you better understand the problem, you’ll be better able to help fix it in a way that benefits everyone. When I was in a senior leadership role in a very busy community hospital, every Friday, I would shadow staff or physicians (wearing a uniform if they did) to try to understand an issue from multiple perspectives. How did I decide where to spend my time? Whatever issue we were stuck on at senior team’s Tuesday morning meeting, that’s where I’d go. And 9 times out of 10, staff and those we served had the answer (or at least a good step in the right direction). At first people were shocked to see me there but after a while, people would ask, “When are you coming to my area?” Before long, people saw the value and respected the effort.

I was never a better senior leader until I started spending my Fridays with the people who add the value. We need to get out of our office. We need to follow people and walk a mile in their shoes to better understand what needs to be improved and what is working.

These things take time, effort, energy and resources, but let’s face it, you’re deploying it anyway. You might as well direct it to what will make a lasting difference.

Why not share this with similarly like-minded folks who value the customer experience as much as the employee experience. And why not subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss a week of valuable insights about retaining top talent and loyal clients.

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