Putting the “E-X” in Customer Excellence

Posted By: Jon Lavietes Global Alliance Summit ,

Although the cat is out of the bag about the partner and customer experiences being intertwined—the convergence of CX and PX has been the subject of recent ASAP webinars, as well as Strategic Alliance Monthly and Strategic Alliance Quarterly articles—there’s a third and equally important stakeholder that impacts company bottom lines: employees, “the people who deliver on the brand promise every day,” as described by Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce.

Bova said this in the context of her prerecorded 2022 ASAP Global Alliance Summit session “The Experience Advantage: Employees, Customers, and the Path to Growth,” which provided registrants with an exclusive look at findings from a recent major research report set to be released later this spring around how the employee experience influences and impacts the customer experience and overall company performance.

Yes, many of us probably know on some level that a better CX and a better EX result in higher overall company success. Indeed, Bova’s research confirmed that companies that made EX a top priority saw a 1.3X growth rate, while companies that prioritized CX highly experienced a 1.4X boost. However, the companies that focused on both in a holistic and intentional way produced 1.8 times more growth. The lesson: “The fastest way to get customers to love your brand is to get your employees to love their job,” said Bova, relaying one of her favorite quotes.

According to Bova’s findings, there are five key areas of the employee experience that impact the customer the most: 1) trust, 2) C-suite accountability, 3) alignment, 4) recognition, and 5) seamless technology. In the presentation, Bova focused on the first and last of these pillars. Her figures revealed that employees who felt empowered to do what they felt was right for the customer were 1.5 times more likely to consider themselves top CX supporters. Employers that delivered superior technology to their workers were 5.6 times more likely to report that their companies were experiencing extreme revenue growth in the past 12 months.

Sloggin’ to Log In: Internal Technology Hamstrings Employees

Technological barriers indeed hamper employees from doing the best job possible on behalf of the customer and the company. Bova noted that many companies force their workers to log in to multiple enterprise applications, sometimes a half dozen or more, in order to carry out their duties. She added that another study found that enterprises averaged 900 applications in their systems, yet only 27 of them were integrated.

Bova’s findings uncovered a gaping disconnect between senior leadership’s view of the effectiveness of their company technology foundation and the perceptions of their ground troops; a little more than half of C-suite members (52 percent) feel internal technology is working effectively—“that’s already a problem,” argued Bova, before revealing the greater depth of the issue: only 32 percent of workers share that view of their tech tools, while just one-fifth of customer-facing employees strongly agree that the technology provided to them is seamless and helps them collaborate effectively.

Stand and Deliver? Not So Amazing

There’s a similar disparity between the views of top brass and ground troops about whether the former actively listens to and acts on feedback from the latter. Bova’s figures showed that 49 percent of C-suite executives say that companies excel at acting on employee feedback, while only 31 percent of employees feel this is true. When it comes to day-to-day execution of duties, frontline workers were 20 percent less likely to say that they were engaged than C-suite officials.

“If you don’t have engagement in your employee base, how can you possibly expect them to deliver these amazing experiences to your customers or partners, or even internally to each other?” asked Bova rhetorically.

Five Ways to Converge CX, EX, and PX 

How should organizations start thinking about and integrating PX, CX, and EX together as a greater whole? Bova shared five tenets of a broader strategy:

  1. Align with your partner on what defines a positive, healthy, and engaged relationship between internal and partner employees.
  2. Deepen your understanding of which of the aforementioned five pillars of EX have the most impact on the customer journey.
  3. Reassess technology. This part can be confounding as there are innumerable technology options that potentially impact employees, customers, and partners—for example, there are more than 5,000 martech solutions Bova recommended focusing on tech that reduces red tape and extraneous employee and partner effort.
  4. Collaborate. In particular, Bova urged listeners to focus on the intersection between IT, HR, and marketing from a systems, technology, process, and change management lens.
  5. Take action on feedback. Bova exhorted viewers to collect opinions from employees at least on a quarterly basis.

Bova expanded on the last point during a Q&A with ASAP president and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP, cautioning virtual attendees that this exercise will prove futile if companies don’t demonstrate that they are seriously considering thoughts from the people in the trenches. She advised leaders to be transparent about decisions made on items that roll into the suggestion box. If a recommendation ultimately gets incorporated into daily processes, give the employee who hatched the idea credit publicly. If the proposal was rejected, provide thoughtful and detailed feedback as to why that verdict was rendered.

“’They came up with this really good idea. It saved unnecessary steps. Bring that kind of information to us anytime,’” said Bova, giving an example of feedback to a good submission. “Mind you, not every idea is good. Not every idea will be actionable. This is about [exhibiting] behavior [to make] somebody [feel] safe enough to make a suggestion. Whether you do it or not, how you respond to that suggestion signals to the rest of the organization that you’re interested in ideas coming from the bottom up versus the top down.” 

The 2022 ASAP Global Alliance Summit wraps up today, but keep checking back with the ASAP Blog over the coming weeks for more great insights that emerged from the event.