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CEM success starts with employees

Customer experience management (CEM) is quickly becoming a primary focus for companies looking to garner, gain, and keep market share. What many of these organizations are missing is the value of beginning their CEM strategy at home, with their employees.

Research from Aon Hewitt suggests that employee engagement levels and employee perceptions of their overall work experience are moving upwards and to the right. But the news is not all good. Aon Hewitt’s 2016 Trends in Global Employee Engagement annual study, which surveys employees from more than 1,000 companies, across 60 industries, in 155 countries, shows that while some administrative areas like employee safety and benefits have improved, results from strategic areas such as business unit leadership, innovation, and a compelling employee value proposition are heading south. This is bad news for the CEM strategies of those participating companies.

While I think, most would agree that technology and omnichannel communications are essential elements to a CEM strategy, another key element, which is often overlooked as organizations start down their CEM path, is the potential impact all their employees can have on that journey. And if the Aon Hewitt study trend continues, those unfocused and disengaged employees are going to take the CEM journey down a much rougher road.

The obvious

It is understandable that organizations almost always start with a myopic focus on the obvious factors that impact their external customers’ experience, such as:

  • External facing channels: website, ecommerce site, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, eBay, physical locations, etc.
  • Systems that impact those channels: web content management system (WCMS, CMS, WEM), product information management system (PIM), ecommerce platform, marketing automation platform (MAP), kiosks, etc.
  • People/teams who manage the channels and systems: Marketing, content administrators, IT, Corporate Communications, customer service representatives, etc.

Getting these components aligned and working together is no small feat, and a definite must as they represent or impact actual touch-points for customers. But attention to these details shouldn’t be done at the expense of some of the less obvious CEM influencers.

The customer within

All employees are customers – important, internal customers. As such, shouldn’t they get similar attention, and an experience cultivated and tended to with the same zeal and enthusiasm as the experience of those buying a product or service?

How many companies can honestly say that they have spent even a fraction of their time, effort, and funds to ensure that those working for them have a truly great customer experience, compared to what they invest in their external customer experience? Oh sure, there are the Googleplexes of the world with free laundry, pool tables, relaxation pods, volleyball courts, and multiple cafeterias serving up just about anything you could want, with the bonus of a core philosophy of transparency – but these companies are few and far between.  And even with all that, if Google didn’t offer challenging and rewarding opportunities for growth and success, as well as clarity into how each Googler contributes to delivering customer experience excellence to the rest of the world, those bells and whistles (literally) wouldn’t mean much.

The not so obvious

The 2016 Aon Hewitt study also shows a direct correlation on how CEM impacts employee engagement. Of the more than 7 million employees included in the study, those located in North America placed more importance on enabling infrastructure (tools to make their jobs easier) and EVP (employee value proposition) than they did on pay. This shows that companies that provide clarity on how each employee contributes to the company’s success are more likely to provide a positive work environment and have happy teams. The impact? Employees stay longer and have a higher level of commitment to the organization, and cultivate an environment that strives for excellence in everything they do, including customer experience.

Developing, nurturing, and engaging employees in a manner that aligns them and their roles with the organization’s CEM strategy will put employees in a position to not only support but drive its CEM success. This is not about getting staff to be able to recite a company’s vision, mission, or values statement. An internal CEM strategy gives employees a positive work environment, with ease of access to data, tools, and colleagues, in roles that challenge and provide them with opportunities for collaboration, development, and growth in their role and responsibilities. These initiatives should also purposefully gather and then leverage employee knowledge, their unique perspectives and innovative ideas, as well as their insightful customer knowledge, all of which are essential to success in customer experience.

Delivering an excellent experience to employees, one in which they feel appreciated and focused, will lead to them down the path to delivering excellent customer experience to your customers every time.

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