It’s all HX: How CX and EX can work together for business growth
The companies that are coming through the pandemic with minimal damage, or stronger than pre-COVID-19, are those that have been able to pivot quickly to the changing needs of customers, which suggests that their employee culture is agile. Moving beyond COVID, there’s potential for companies to participate in an economic boom, but only if they can strike the right balance between what they’re offering, what customers are demanding, and how employees are delivering.
With the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy, businesses are struggling with cost, labor, and resource challenges. When these obstacles arise in an organization, in addition to multiple operational and strategic projects, it can be difficult to separate all of the information and input from the various contributors. Identifying what will meet business objectives requires a new and deeper level of visibility into the factors and insights of these key influencers (both customer and employee).
To solve any structural issue, an organization must rely on the engagement of all contributors. Optimizing integrated feedback with multi-level insights will help organizations achieve breakthroughs in their bottom-line results. Positioning the insights function at the center of an organization to accomplish goals versus just layering it on top of everything will allow team members to go in and refigure workflows based on what was learned—based on what the customers are telling a company about their experience and by addition, what employees are telling a company about customer experiences.
Employees are at the frontline; they know the pain points that customers have, and they also know the frustrations of dealing with those issues. This idea is where the human experience (HX) comes together. Instead of treating customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) as silos, think about them as one holistic experience—and address them together. Often, companies have these functions set in two very different parts of the organization. CX usually sits on the marketing, technology or operations team, while EX is almost always the responsibility of the human resources (HR) department.
Within the HR practice, EX tends to focus on interactions such as recruiting, onboarding, salary conversations, etc. One way EX can evolve within the HR department is moving beyond these "hiring" aspects and moving to the issues that really matter for long-term success, such as employee morale, employee engagement and corporate culture. This is important because how employees feel about their organization tends to directly impact the customer experiences they provide. According to a Gallup study, engaged employees produced 10% higher customer ratings, 17% higher productivity, 20% higher sales, and 40% fewer quality defects.
So how can you, as a data insights professional, make certain that CX and EX are working together at your company to ensure organizational success? Below are a few tips for achieving this:
- Expand your insights action team—Carefully consider how you set up the structure of your team to make sure the right people with the right skillsets are in place. Avoid going back to those siloed categories. Instead of dividing EX and CX functions, bring the structure together to create a unified and impactful insights team. Typically comprised of internal data management and marketing team members, insights teams should include leaders across the organization including HR, Marketing, Analytics, and Customer Management—such as chief talent officers, chief customer officers, data analysts. and the like. You ultimately want people who complement one another with the right blend of skills, approaches and experience.
- Partner with a customer-oriented analyst—The right individual on your data science or finance team knows where the data exists to help you better understand customer behavior patterns. Having a counterpart with this background can help you locate credible data and can even help you crack the right analysis. Another reason you want to have someone like this on your team is because an analyst is always picking things apart and has critical thinking skills, so he/she can help you identify the gaps in your analysis—and also identify data that bolsters your theory—before you take it up the chain and present your recommendations to C-level executives.
- Work with HR to attract more customer-focused talent—Employees are a key factor in the CX equation, as they are on the front line of meeting customer expectations—or managing the situation in the best way possible when those expectation are not met. The quickest and best way to become a customer-focused organization is to hire customer-focused people. So what does this mean? Often, in the hiring process, companies vet people only for their hard skill sets (accountant, programmer, etc.), but to produce greater alignment between your CX and EX teams, build additional character traits into your job descriptions. Some people tend to be more predisposed to being more customer-oriented than others and yes, you can train them, but doing so requires energy and effort. Screening applicants ahead for this saves time and money.
- Value employees and customers equally—The experiences of customers and employees are inextricably linked; treating them equally (and working to integrate them) will help pave a quicker path to business impact. From an employee perspective, this means implementing a system that includes employee perspectives on the topic of how customers are served. This can include surveys—ongoing pulse surveys, for example—but it needs to extend beyond that. Utilizing crowdsourcing techniques to engage employees in retooling work processes will help employees see tangible evidence that their voice matters, which will bolster commitment, engagement and loyalty to the company. It will also help attract like-minded, customer-centric people to the organization through the recommendations of these committed employees. This, in turn, will create a better experience for customers, which is a more enjoyable environment for employees – and a virtuous cycle emerges.
Finding a way to get CX and EX to work in synchrony within an organization can be a big challenge, but one well worth taking on. Doing so can impact so many positive aspects within an organization, from customer retention; to having a winning culture where all the best talent want to work; to long-term, sustainable business growth. An organization’s future success relies on embracing HX and understanding audiences cohesively from all angles and points in time.