CEM maturity model pt 4: Engaging your employees

Employee engagement
istock

In recent weeks, we’ve been examining the CEM maturity model – an increasingly popular framework that gauges and steers the development of customer experience management programmes. As part of the series, we’ve been exploring how the model can be used, studying the different dimensions of the model and highlighting questions that organisations should ask themselves to assess their customer experience maturity to identify gaps between CX performance and aspiration. 

We've already examined how to assess your customer-centric vision, as well as the role of developing a customer-centric culture, and creating visionary leadership. This week we'll be discussing the importance of employee engagement.

Employee engagement

An important insight that has been developed by neuroscientists is that the interaction between employees and customers is a mutually beneficial experience. Customers can experience extreme happiness when employees deliver a great service and this in turn can make employees experience similar levels of happiness.

So, to deliver a great customer experience it is critical that employees are happy at work and motivated to make customers happy. It is unlikely for employees to engage with customers in a positive way if they do not feel engaged at work and enjoy doing their job. In other words, there is a strong correlation between employee engagement and customer engagement. Being engaged at work is not easy nowadays as the workplace is a challenging environment where many find it difficult to meet the expectations of increasingly demanding customers and managers.

Although research has shown that the drivers of employee engagement and those of customer-centricity are very different both these aspects of people’s mindset are highly correlated, the most engaged employees tend to have a more customer-centric mindset and demonstrate a more customer-centric behaviour. Those that care least about customers tend also to be those employees that are less engaged at work.

Given the fact that the vast majority of employees around the world do not feel engaged at work it is clear that if a CEM programme does not address the happiness and well-being of the employees it will not be successful. The way to make the organisation more customer-centric is not to simply tell employees what customers are saying about the company and to instruct them to fix their pain points. In order for employees to act on Voice of the Customer data the company has to satisfy the fundamental needs of the people that work for it.

The questions below test the key aspects of employee engagement which are known to be directly connected to customercentricity.

Employee engagement assessment

  • Am I proud to work for the company?
  • Would I recommend the company I work for as an employer to my family and friends?
  • Does the vision and purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
  • In my day to day work is it easy to meet customer expectations?
  • Do I have the freedom I need to fix customer issues and make them happy?
  • Does my direct manager give me praise and recognition when I do something good for a customer?

Despite formal employee opinion surveys and performance appraisals the frequency and nature of interaction between managers and their teams is generally insufficient to make employees feel truly valued.

In order for employees to engage with the company they work for their needs as people need to be fulfilled. These range from the basic working conditions, getting the support from managers to do their job, collaborating with others as a team through to being able to develop personally and grow professionally.

Although surveys go some way to capture what employees experience along these dimensions they are too infrequent and impersonal to make sustainable improvements. Just like the Net Promoter approach is a platform to improve the quality and quantity of dialogue companies have with their customers the same approach can also be used to step up the dialogue between managers and their employees.

Although surveys go some way to capture what employees experience along these dimensions they are too infrequent and impersonal to make sustainable improvements.

Simply regularly ask everyone in the organisation a few basic questions that are a good indicator of employee engagement such as the likelihood to recommend the company to friends and family or the ease of meeting customer expectations. Then let each team leader deep dive into the causes for happiness and unhappiness in an open and constructive way.

In a truly customer-centric organisation such a process would not be needed as it is in the culture of the company to build relationships between people and there is a great sense of togetherness. However, an employee Net Promoter approach is good way to kick-start cultural change.

Other methods such as enabling employees to address topics through idea management or providing direct access to board members take less effort and can also be an effective way to get going.

About Kim MacGillavry and Alan Wilson

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