We’re ushering in a new era of customer experience (CX). Customers were once left to hack through the brambles of treacherous brand journeys that often led to frustration and disappointment; today, it’s all about creating seamless, personalized voyages where both consumers and brands win by tapping the power of intelligent customer journey orchestration.

But as we seek to perfect the customer journey, it’s important to stop and look around at the employees that support those journeys. Not only does employee experience positively affect the customer experience, but customer journey tools are a two-way street where the employee experience is just as important as the customer interaction. 

With the “Great Resignation” of 2022, and employee talent and retention being top of every boardroom agenda, improving employee experience, and aligning it to customer experience, has been thrust into the limelight.

Here is my guide to assess and elevate the employee experience and, in turn, improve your customers’ journeys:

Employees Are the Guiding Light for the Customer Journey

If we think of the customer journey as a path through a terrain, we want that path to be well paved, clearly lit, cleared from debris and obstacles, with clear signage. I see each employee as the North Star (or perhaps a Super Trouper) — an essential element to the journey to guide customers to their destination and avoid stumbling along the way. Our goal with customer journey management (and the employees’ role in journey management in tandem) is to ensure that path is not too broad (i.e. customers being overwhelmed with brand outreach), too dim (i.e. not enough support or guidance) or covered with clouds (i.e. inconsistent or confusing messaging).

Each employee has a part to play in the customer journey, even if they don’t have a traditional customer service role. Extraordinary customer experiences happen when every department, across the company, is aligned and shares the same drive, strategy and vision. This includes engineers as they create software updates, marketers as they create new sales campaign and R&D teams as they work to uncover and test the next best thing.

Related Article: 4 Steps to Start Connecting Customer Experience and Employee Experience Insights

Aligning Customer Experience With Employee Experience

There is a myriad of ways to collect data to guide business strategies as it relates to the customer journey. But now, we are seeing how we can combine customer behavior data and employee experience data to better align for a positive journey for each. 

A majority of CX analytics data is drawn from survey responses, known as the Voice of Customer (VoC). However, surveys often fail to provide a reliable and complete picture, as they often only show the extremes and capture a customer’s sentiment at one point in time.

For businesses to gain a deeper understanding of the customer experience, they should combine VoC with real-time customer behavior data (Voice of Process, or VoP). On top of that, standout CX happens when VoC and VoP is combined with the Voice of Employee (VoE). To unlock the data for VoE, companies should conduct employee surveys and review company processes to empower employees to create a better experience for themselves by expressing their preferences.

Employees are mission-critical to the understanding of customer journeys, as they can provide insight that business leaders might not notice. When there is a disconnect between employee and customer perception, this implies a larger gap in the experience as well. When leaders listen to employee feedback and review disconnects or customer conflicts, they can better understand and repair the customer’s experience with the brand as well.

On the flip side, when the customer and employee experiences align, they both come out of an exchange feeling successful and valued by the interaction. Voice of Employee as a form of data analytics will only grow from here as a key factor in creating a culture of customer excellence and brand success.

Another way that VoE manifests itself is through social media. When a customer sees a positive social media post from an employee about an experience with their employer, it generates goodwill for both the consumer and employee — and vice versa. When employees are experiencing poor working conditions, they are more likely to share that with the world and erode hard-earned brand reputation.

Learning Opportunities

The Technology Behind the CX, EX North Stars

Creating a more optimal CX doesn’t mean overworking employees and spreading them even thinner. To combat such overload, brands should invest in resources to improve the productivity and impact of each individual, empowering them with the tools they need to make their jobs efficient while ensuring they are accurate, personalized and on-message when interfacing with the customer.

The key is to empower the employee with knowledge, so that they are armed with relevant information and guided with a personalized approach by the time they encounter the customer in their journey. Solutions like machine learning, predictive analytics and conversational AI are often deployed as a part of customer journey orchestration to better understand where the customer is coming from and their next step, and then automate the direct delivery of an offer or message to the customer.

These same tools should also be harnessed to be deployed through the employee, so they can deliver the right interaction to the customer themselves. Not only does this have ensure benefits for the customer, but it also helps employees feel better prepared and more productive in their customer interactions, thus having wide-reaching benefits for the company.

For example, tools like conversational AI can assist the employee to pinpoint the customer’s intent and provide relevant information to the agent to minimize misrouted calls and allow for more self-serve opportunities for the customer. Knowledge hubs provide contact center employees with customer background and suggested next steps to increase ease and speed to resolution.

Related Article: EX and CX Come Down to the Same Thing: Put the Person First

Exciting Time in World of Customer Experience, Employee Experience

I’d like to finish with a final bonus opportunity from employee journey capabilities. That same suite of technologies helping the customer, and helping the employee help the customer, can be used internally to help the employee directly — to better personalize and augment employee experiences within the company. Brands can apply the same “full journey” mindset to employee satisfaction and closely monitor the employee’s path with the company to understand pain points, drop offs and opportunities for relationship improvement. By applying customer experience logic and technology to the employee experience, brands can manage the employee journey from start to finish to ensure it’s also personalized, proactive and productive.

It’s an exciting time in CX/EX as we can take the customer journey further and enhance every single element along the path. Employees are the lights brightening the path and affecting the quality of the experience throughout, so it’s essential that we ensure employees have the knowledge and tools they need to support the customer.

And why not take that a step further, using those very same tools to extend that wonderful experience to the employee themself. In the end, happier customers make happier employees, and happier employees make happier customers. It is a win for everyone.

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