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Two surprising initiatives that demand CX and HR collaboration


Employee experience has become common ground for CX leaders and HR leaders. But there are other areas that would benefit from their collaboration as well. 

6th Mar 2023

The chief people officer or senior HR manager is probably someone that you wouldn’t expect to be in the same orbit as the customer experience leader. Yet the overlap between the two is becoming clearer over time. 

The influence of employee engagement/experience on the customer experience has long been discussed - it is now over 20 years since a Harvard Business Review article (‘Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work’) detailed research proposing happy employees = happy customers = happy shareholders.

But after a year where the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting threatened to disrupt businesses, it is of greater consideration than ever to customer experience leaders. Indeed, in soon-to-be-published research from MyCustomer, employee engagement is reported as one of the biggest obstacles to CX programme success. In the survey of 150 customer experience leaders, twice as many reported employee engagement as being a concern this year compared to the same study in 2022, with over a quarter (28%) telling us that it represented a major obstacle for their customer experience plans. 

Little wonder that at the beginning of this year, Zhecho Dobrev, principal consultant at Beyond Philosophy, recommended that work on the employee experience should be one of the strategic priorities for customer experience leaders in 2023. And - unsurprisingly - that means working with human resources. 

“The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting… those can’t be good terms in the context of employee engagement,” wrote Dobrev.

“This creates the necessity to give priority to employee engagement, invest more in employee research and employee engagement activities. And just like the CX function can work with finance, sales & marketing, it can also work with HR using its toolkit.”

Dobrev suggests that similar to how predictive behaviour analytics can be deployed to find how customers are likely to feel and who is in danger of attrition, those can be deployed to flag employees with cumulative hard shifts or other factors that lead to higher propensity to leave the workplace. 

(For more on what emotions are linked to employee engagement and what practices can be adopted to evoke these, read: What are the most important emotions in the employee experience?)

Elsewhere, Dobrev also suggests that work with HR around the area of employee engagement might also want to focus on improving the way that quality management and coaching is being conducted in contact centres. Evaluating agent interactions with customers is mostly based on supervisor listening to just a small number of interactions, and with research proving that humans evaluate these interactions in inconsistent and biased ways, it is unsurprisingly a common cause of friction between supervisors and staff - ultimately leading to turnover. 

Leveraging AI as an enablement for the quality management and coaching in contact centres could alleviate this tension, suggests Dobrev. 

“Deploying AI-based analytics in the contact centre will allow the organisation to evaluate all interactions, leverage speech analytics to provide sentiment analysis, emotion detection and automatically point staff members to videos to improve certain skills e.g. empathy, effective questioning, consultative selling, etc.”

But there are also other areas outside of employee experience where HR and CX can collaborate. Here are a couple of suggestions. 

Candidate experience

Candidate experience is an area that can be overlooked by HR, and often isn’t even considered by CX. 

Candidates can receive no acknowledgement of the receipt of CVs, too many rounds of interviews, poor application software, and no follow-up after applications/interviews. One study even says that, 48% of the time, companies don’t contact people who’ve expressed interest in working there.

Yet research suggests that nearly a quarter of interviewees say that a positive candidate experience with an employer made them more likely to increase their relationships with employers’ respective “brand alliances, product purchases or networking.”

“The CCO and HR might speak periodically but it’s not necessarily a consistent relationship,” says CX speaker and author Jeanne Bliss. “But it really is important to think of candidate experience the way you discuss customer experience. It matters a good deal.”

How can CX leaders work with HR to make candidate experience better? One way is to implement candidate experience surveys. 

These surveys have many benefits:

  • Deliver insights into what the candidates want - this can help to tailor future recruitment efforts to attract top talent. 

  • Understand why job offers are rejected - again this helps to ensure that future efforts are improved. 

  • Improve the employer brand - gauge how the company is perceived so that you can identify areas where your brand/CX needs improvement.

Employee journey mapping

There is a growing school of thought that suggests businesses should view employees as consumers. And in an article on MyCustomer sister site HRzone, Rob Catalano -  a Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) and a popular speaker and writer on the topic of employee recognition and engagement - has proposed that businesses should turn to their sales and marketing teams to learn a thing or two about how to listen and understand their employees.

“We have a lot to learn from how we approach consumers in a sales and marketing sense to how we should be listening to and understanding employees,” he writes. As part of this, there are suggestions that HR teams should start to map the employee journey just as CX teams learned to do with the customer journey. By mapping employee journeys, HR can better understand specific employee journeys that may not be generating the outcomes they desire, or which they believe they can improve.

This employee journey mapping is something that has been endorsed by customer service and employee engagement specialist Graham Frost, for many years. And in fact, he believes employee journey mapping is every bit as important as customer journey mapping, and needs to be focused on before organisations can get the customer journey right.

So what should your employee journey map cover and what questions should you be asking yourself about your staff’s experience along the way? Graham Frost suggests the following.

  • First impressions. Before someone ever applies for a job with you, they will want to know what it’s like to work for you. If you have a recruitment website, this is an ideal place to share information about what it is like to work for you, providing endorsements from existing staff. Ask yourself: is this an honest portrayal of how it is to work for us? If there is an online application form, make sure that it isn’t too laborious to complete. Ask yourself: when was the last time that you tested the site through the eyes of a potential applicant? Alternatively, if you use an external provider for your recruitment, you must ensure they are clear about your expectations of them in terms of their behaviour towards prospective employees, as this will also reflect on you. Ask yourself: how often do you quiz applicants on the recruitment process and the behaviour of the external provider? 
  • The application and interview process. The next stage in the employee journey to examine is the application process. Consider what your process is when a candidate applies for a job with you, including issues such as how quickly applications are acknowledged. Ask yourself: do we have a standard process for dealing with candidates and when was it last reviewed? As the recruitment process is such an important part of the employee journey, it is vital to get it right. So why not ask your employees what they thought was good/bad about the selection experience to help improve it.
  • Induction. The induction process is a valuable way to make your new staff feel welcomed and valuable. A great induction process should incorporate a senior member of the organisation with good people skills, and should ideally be delivered by people who have done the job themselves. It should also cover a history of the company, its strategy, plans for the future, corporate values and mission statement. Ask yourself: are we giving our new staff a clear indication of what is expected of them and what they can expect if they achieve this?

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