Similarly to employee experience, having a negative customer experience can lead to attrition — which affects the brand’s reputation and the company’s bottom line. 

Aligning employee experience and customer experience requires getting a holistic view of the organization and making a concerted effort across the business, says Chris Belli, VP of marketing and business development at Studio Science, a modern design consultancy and a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s CMSWire CONNECT Conference

To follow up on the Studio Science session, CMSWire spoke with Belli about service design that improves both employee and customer experiences. 

Service Design for the Best Experiences 

CMSWire: What is the connection between employee experience and customer experience, and what are the risks of misalignment?

Chris Belli: When you think about every interaction that a customer has along their journey with a company, from as early as how they become aware of a new offering, to their purchase, to their ongoing use, and you consider all of those touchpoints, it’s enabled by the capabilities of an organization. 

The most critical part of an organization’s capabilities is its people. Customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) are part of the same connected system. 

The results of a misalignment between the two is that you have a higher customer churn rate due to poor experiences, you have expensive employee turnover due to things like lack of training and lack of understanding about their role in that entire journey. Ultimately, you end up with a damaged brand reputation.

CMSWire: What does it mean to have a service design approach? 

Belli: Service design considers all parts of the experience: the human experience, the physical experience, the digital experience and the employee experience. It’s that overarching, holistic understanding of the experience and all of the things that go into creating that. It’s the organizing of the business resources that deliver the customer experience.

A service design approach recognizes that the customer experience and the employee experience are two parts of one cohesive system that we design for. A service design approach, in a nutshell, simultaneously creates improvement for customers and employees by mapping the improvements to the rest of the system. It’s that holistic, overarching consideration of all experiences tied together. 

Holistic Research, Holistic Results

CMSWire: What advice do you have for organizations who want to overhaul their employee and customer experience, but aren’t sure where to begin?

Belli: My advice to organizations that want to overhaul any part of the customer experience or the employee experience is to always be advocating for making customer experience improvements collaboratively across all areas, but also simultaneously. 

So collaboratively and simultaneously making improvements across the human experience, the physical experience, the digital experience, the employee experience, versus allowing individual departments to work in silos. That’s where you start to have inconsistent and misaligned experiences within organizations. The best way to align all of the areas is to holistically design the service by using meaningful research. 

I say “meaningful research” because once you start identifying where the met and unmet needs are for the customers and the employees, you’re actually able to then start identifying where there are opportunities for improvements across the customer journey. Research is really key to designing a better experience. 

CMSWire: What’s the best form of research, in that sense? 

Belli: We use a tool in service design called a service blueprint, which is centered around the customer journey and how to define how an organization’s capabilities enable the entire customer experience. It provides a holistic perspective of the entire service. 

Once you’ve got that research in hand, you’re actually armed with the hard facts. Organizations are then able to concretely prioritize where to spend their efforts in making those improvements. 

Learning Opportunities

CMSWire: How should companies overcome challenges that arise in the process of redesign?

Belli: There’s a process to doing this. There’s a way of doing it. I always advocate for following the process and starting with the research. Once you’ve got those hard facts, you have a foundational understanding across the entirety of the organization, that no matter who picks up the work, they can say why we’re doing the work.

The other way to overcome some of these challenges is to hire professionals. These tasks are so important for businesses that they often become high-anxiety-inducing activities. But you can alleviate that anxiety by hiring a professional internally that has an understanding of how to connect all of the systems and how to map out that customer journey and service blueprint. Or you can hire one of the many modern design consultancies that are out there that can assist you with this work.

graphic that says "CONNECT Quotes" on top with Chris Belli's headshot to the top right. And then a quote that reads, " A service design approach recognizes that the customer experience and the employee experience are two parts of one cohesive system that we design for. -- Chris Belli, VP of marketing and business development, Studio Science”

Customer Experience in Action

CMSWire: What are you watching or reading these days? Anything that you’ve read or used that aligns with the employee and customer experience? 

Belli: I try to find myself aligning with a parallel or a relevant industry to one I’m working with, then source my materials from organizations within that space. 

Where my mind wandered to with this question is that once you have an understanding of services design and things like the service blueprint, you start to understand the importance of how all of the parts combine together to deliver one experience. 

I encourage people to do their own private research when they’re out in public and interacting with a service, like a bank or an airline or your local sandwich store. Once you’re having that interaction, consider how the brand of that organization affected your desire to choose them, how the physical space enables and encourages you to make a transaction. 

Does the digital product such as a mobile app or ordering service exceed your expectations by expediting the transaction? And what is your interaction with the employee like? Did that contribute to an overall positive experience? Could the employee have done more? Did that employee’s interaction with you actually exceed the expectation and make up for some pretty poor experiences you had in those other areas? 

When you have a basic understanding of what a buyer’s expectation is from the experience, you can start to map out journeys and start identifying where there are opportunities for improvement based on the unmet needs that you’ve actually discovered in your own interactions with those businesses. 

Studio Science is a Visionary-level sponsor of the CMSWire CONNECT conference. To learn more, visit CMSWire CONNECT.