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How employee engagement and cultural transformation drive customer experience

13 Jun 2019

Employee engagement is critical for customer experience, writes Forrester’s Dan Bieler.

Many organisations focus on becoming more digital on the outside. Yet Forrester’s research shows that most are far from being digital on the inside.

Most organisations have not yet adopted their work culture and processes to change the way they innovate and work. Employee engagement sits at the centre of workspace transformation and, therefore, your innovation and customer experience (CX) activities.

Customers often cannot pinpoint the root causes of a bad experience. Customers can evaluate their own experiences only up to a point. They only see a fraction of the people, processes, systems, and policies that affect their experiences. Employees are in a different position.

When CX is poor, customer experience professionals often don’t know why. Systematically collecting feedback from employees provides context for how customers perceive their experiences and helps identify process, policy and technology hurdles that hinder CX delivery.

It also gives insight into the quality of employees’ experiences. The support of employee engagement therefore requires a simultaneous focus on customer and employee experiences.

Feedback loops

Collecting employees’ feedback is necessary but insufficient to identify the root causes of problems in the ecosystem. It is essential to integrate themes from both employees’ and customers’ feedback. Where your customers’ and employees’ feedback coincide highlights a real problem for CX delivery.

This is why it is increasingly important to involve employees in identifying root causes of CX problems.

The increased role of all employees in CX initiatives also means empowering employees to implement ideas right away. Work with employees to prioritise systemic issues.

Involving employees in CX problem-solving will also create greater buy-in. Make the collection and use of their feedback transparent. Recognise employees who provide feedback and share top themes. Update employees who provide feedback, and let them know how you’re using their insights and ideas. Finally, free up and train employees to improve feedback quality.

Cultural transformation

Your employees and colleagues are facing significant changes in the workplace.

For instance, employees will work in multigenerational workforces. Structured physical work will go down. Empathy-requiring positions will increase. Employees will rely more on augmented, virtual and extended reality. They will work in more flexible work arrangements.

Millennials can expect to reskill 15 to 20 times during their lifetime. Virtual workspaces and collaboration platforms facilitate working across countries or while travelling. Companies will increasingly hire interim talents from outside their normal recruitment market. And hiring based on attitudes, abilities to handle change and outlooks rather than grades and qualifications will increase.

Carefully managing this transformation process is essential to boost employee engagement.

By Dan Bieler

Dan Bieler is a principal analyst at Forrester serving CIO professionals. In upcoming research, he will investigate how cultural transformation challenges all too often come up as the major stumbling blocks during digital transformation projects.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Forrester blog.

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