The unexpected formula for great customer experience

Key takeaways

  • Research shows that customers who experience great customer service will spend more with a brand.
  • Employees create the customer experience, so it’s imperative that their experience is a good one too.
  • Retaining employees by providing good experience, the right tools, and the best culture will have a flow on effect to your customers.

What are you spending your experience dollars on? Advertising? Marketing? Slick design and technology? All of the above? How much are you spending on your employees’ experience?

Is that crickets I hear?

It’s time to get smarter. The most important element of customer experience is employee experience. Get it right and you’ll get the broader elements of experience right – convenience, speed, friendly service, a feeling of connection and seamlessness that your customers demand. It’s worth getting right. PwC’s Future of Customer Experience Survey found that people will pay for it – with price premiums of up to 16%.

Employees craft customer experiences

Your employees are often the ones crafting the experiences your customers have. These employees are creating, building and delivering experiences behind the scenes and face-to-face. They have the ability to drive better solutions, better experience, more loyalty and to build evangelists among the people who love your brand. People want the employees they interact with to see them, hear them and meet their needs. They want the technology they interact with to offer a more human, connected experience. Who builds that? Your people. Here’s the evidence:

  • 66% of people say employee interactions have a significant impact on their experience.
  • 65% say that a positive experience with a brand is more influential than great advertising or marketing.
  • A whopping 42% of respondents say they’d pay more for an experience that was welcoming and friendly.

Smart marketing spend

Delivering for your employees is at the heart of making the customer experience excellent. But, most companies are not investing enough in employee experience, and instead spend more on technology and marketing efforts they believe will deliver customer loyalty. Gartner’s 2017-18 CMO Spend Survey showed companies with more than $5 billion in revenue spend more than 11% of their annual revenue on marketing.1

What if you took just 10% of your marketing budget and dedicated it instead to employee experience? You could actually save money by just moving spend to strengthening experience-type efforts. And with a 16% price premium for superior customer experience, you’ll get three times more return on that investment than you’ve ever gotten through trying to market to the world a message of how wonderful you, your products or your services are.

Let that play out for a moment. At a $5 billion revenue company, marketing might make up $550 million in spend. Imagine what you could do for employee experience if you shifted $55 million of that money to the cause? And if that investment helped deliver a 16% price premium, on products your company sells–that’s $800 million dollars.

Three things smart companies know about employee experience

1) Employees constantly weigh whether to stay or leave. Those decisions ultimately cause a ripple effect across the company and can impact your customers. The best companies  take note of the importance of the employee experience and do all they can to ensure their talent is thriving. They remove the red-tape and enable employees to test out creative ideas, they create consistent touchpoints and prioritize healthy communication practices, and they flatten out old-school paradigms to foster camaraderie and confidence across all levels of staff.

2) Great companies ensure employees have the most effective tools and technology. Companies that get it make sure employees are able to do what they were hired to do – problem-solving, helping clients and building the business. They can do that because they aren’t just handed something to do with some tool a corner-office dweller thinks is best.

Nobody wants to spend all day sitting in front of an ancient CRM tool entering data at a snail’s pace. That’s especially true of the most productive and driven employees; they will be the first to leave if they find themselves burdened by slow or inefficient tech or a lack of purpose in their work. Make employees part of the process of deciding what works – then provide them with the tools, resources and atmosphere they need to create something great.

3) The employee experience isn’t just the first year or two – it’s woven in. When you work for a culture-driven company, there is a two-way implicit contract, directly related to the level of investment the company and employee make in one another. If you want the best people creating the next iteration of your experience, products or apps so that they truly wow customers (and work seamlessly) culture is crucial. So is a belief that onboarding as iterative and ongoing for as long as someone works for you.

You need to provide constant training, consistently improve how employees work, and regularly offer better solutions and tools for them to do their jobs well. Regularly capture what matters to your people and work to act on it. You’ll likely have to train your managers and executives to be more in-tune with the employees and the company.

As with any true transformation, change starts at the top. And if you’ll reap the benefits of being able to charge more, win more loyalty and create spectacular experiences for customers and employees–it’s worth it.