A successful organization depends heavily on a positive customer experience (CX), which starts not with customers but with employees. Though this might sound somewhat odd, customer-centric organizations have found time and time again that they deliver the best CX when they put their employees first, rather than the customers themselves.

This is simply because CX often reflects how an organization’s employees feel about their work. Employees that are happy, satisfied, and supported are far more likely to enable positive CX through their work.

According to CX specialist Ian Golding in his book, ‘Customer What?’, the biggest underlying principle of customer experience is empathy. “It [empathy] has to be towards your employees. … If you don’t get it right for your people, they won’t get it right for your customer.”


Connecting Employee and Customer Experience

Understanding the link between employee and customer experience and taking steps to ensure the two are connected within an organization is critical to its success. In essence, it all boils down to this: happy employees lead to happy customers.

Granted, it’s not rocket science, but you might be surprised to learn just how many organizations don’t focus on the employee experience at all, let alone enough. Most of the time, the bulk of an organization’s focus is somewhat understandably on improving the customer experience because, at the end of the day, customers bring in the money. This doesn’t mean employee experience should be an afterthought.

We’ve recently seen employee experience become thrust into the spotlight amid a wave of resignation activity across the United States and Europe. Dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’, it’s the result of how the pandemic has led to many of us re-evaluating our jobs and lives. Even now, people who work at organizations that don’t prioritize employee experience are continuing to quit their jobs in large numbers in pursuit of better options at organizations that do.


Ensuring a Positive Employee Experience

So many organizations struggle with employee experience because creating an employee-centric culture requires a consistent, varied effort; it’s not just about paying a competitive salary and offering occasional office perks.

At the most fundamental level, ensuring a positive employee experience requires a commitment to and investment in each employee’s personal and professional development alongside investment in the wider business.


Lead With Empathy

Ian Golding highlighted empathy as the biggest underlying principle of customer experience, and that means it applies to the employee experience, too. As such, organizational leaders must ensure that they’re striking the right balance between driving organizational goals and ensuring employee wellness, and this can only be done when you lead with empathy.

Although there are endless ways to do this, there are two that currently stand out in the post-pandemic world: i) by being less office-centric and ii) by facilitating flexibility and transparency.

Being less office-centric means ensuring that you have strategies and processes in place that support team members in all ways possible, no matter how, when, or where they work. For example, if you’re operating with the hybrid work model, you need to ensure that proximity bias—the assumption that employees will be more productive when working from the office—is not holding employees back.

Technology can also enable a positive employee experience, particularly when it’s used to facilitate flexibility and transparency. Invest in technologies and tools that make your employees’ jobs easier and support the ability to work from anywhere. Also, consider using technology to automate menial tasks to help save employees time which they can then use elsewhere.


Start Being More Human

In today’s tech-driven world, customers are looking to buy from brands that are more human. According to research from 2015, 66% of global consumers are willing to spend more on sustainable brands, a number that’s continuing to grow, especially among the so-called ‘Millennial’ and ‘Gen Z’ age groups.

This presents a massive opportunity for brands to stand out by focusing on what makes their brand human and putting this front and center. In addition to sustainability initiatives and charitable donations, brands can achieve this by showing that they’re human by treating their employees well and showcasing the experiences of satisfied team members. Today, marketing is heavily dependent on highlighting the employee experience and allowing employees to become a part of the brand’s voice.


Embrace Bottom-Up Managerial Styles

We’re all familiar with the top-down managerial style, where senior leaders take charge and give directions that employees are expected to follow. This hierarchical structure is quickly becoming outdated, however, and the demands of today’s younger workforce have forced it to be flipped on its head.

Bottom-up managerial styles, where knowledge sharing, innovation, and ideas from employees are encouraged, are becoming more popular. They have been found to keep younger employees more engaged because it drives home the fact that they’ve got a voice that is being listened to and acted upon. This, in conjunction with other bottom-up factors, such as encouraging open communication and the sharing of criticism, helps to foster a more positive working environment, thus solidifying positive employee experiences.


Employee Experience is a Team Effort

Ultimately, every organization stands to benefit from improving the experiences of their employees, because it has a direct link to customer experience, which itself has a direct link to revenue.

The fact of the matter is that happy, supported, and engaged employees mean delighted customers who will come back time and time again. At the same time, happy customers also mean happy employees because interacting with satisfied customers makes working for your company exponentially more pleasant and validates the hard work of customer-facing teams.