street art: the word "Us" with hands at the end of the letter U clasping a hand at the end of letter S
PHOTO: Toa Heftiba

One of the missteps organizations make in their approach to culture transformation is to put all of their focus on designing the change from the top down. The result is a change effort that feels very “command and control” with an emphasis on mandated conformance to new processes and rules. But organizations can make change less painful by shifting their focus instead to “grassroots mobilization” and creating an environment where employees help to shape the change and how they are enabled to deliver on it. One critical element of this shift to grassroots mobilization is tapping into the voice of employees.

4 Opportunities to Use the Voice of Employee to Support CX Goals

There are a number of ways organizations can glean insights from their employees to improve not only the customer experience, but also the experiences of the employees delivering experiences to customers. Four topics to explore using the voice of employees are:

1. How Customer-Centric the Company Is

When an organization undertakes a customer-centric transformation, one of the things it should monitor is employees’ perceptions of that transformation. This includes gathering feedback on whether the organization’s values and leader behaviors are aligned to its aspirational customer experience vision and if employees feel they have the right training, tools and manager support to deliver on the expected customer-centric behaviors. 

When it comes to changing culture, it’s important to remember that culture is how people think, believe and act. If employees don’t think leaders are really committed to what they say is important, their own behaviors won’t change. And it’s hard to get any group of employees to change how they operate if their managers still reinforce old beliefs, processes and measures.

Related Article: A Roadmap to Grassroots Digital Transformation

2. What Employees Think About How Experiences Are Delivered Today

The saying goes, “There are two sides to every story.” This holds true when it comes to customer experience. One of the ways to better understand and diagnose feedback from customers is to get the business context of the experience directly from the employees involved. There is a powerful opportunity when companies gather post-experience feedback from employees about critical interactions with customers. To make this successful, organizations need to integrate listening mechanisms into the workflows employees use as part of their customer interactions. By making it possible for employees to share their side of the story, the organization has a more complete picture of what is really happening and can identify and address barriers employees face in customer delivery or prioritize the best process improvements to improve customers’ experiences directly. (In the same spirit, companies can also learn how to improve employee experiences from customer feedback.)

Related Article: Want to Be Customer-Centric? Engage Your Employees

3. Where Employees See Opportunities to Improve CX

Experience differentiation and innovation cannot happen in a vacuum. Any customer-centric transformation should include enabling employees to deliver their own ideas back to the organization on how to improve CX. Creating an environment that encourages employee feedback requires not only the mechanisms to capture that feedback, but also the discipline to close the loop with employees, whether or not their ideas trigger further action. 

If this is something new for your organization, take a page from a scientific equipment manufacturer who recognized employees might feel pressured when asked to weigh in on major corporate areas of focus for the first time. It started by simply asking employees, “What do you think?” during calls and team meetings. As employees saw their input driving action, their confidence and trust in the process increased and ideas began to flow more freely. A more advanced financial services company put in place an employee forum where employees can submit their CX improvement ideas in more structured ways, as well as comment and upvote on others’ submissions. Through this process, no matter where employees are located in the organization, they have visibility and a voice into how to make experiences more customer-focused. The company has put processes in place around the forum to gather, review, respond to, and act on the feedback employees submit.

Related Article: Why Employee Experience Is the New Customer Experience

4. Help Managers Enable Employees in Their Roles

Sometimes the changes that need to happen aren’t in the processes or interactions that customers have, but rather how capable and supported employees are when trying to deliver positive customer experiences. Organizations truly committed to a customer-centric transformation need to ensure that managers are invested in the change and understand their unique role in supporting employees’ success. Not only should managers get access to customer feedback with which they can coach employees, they should also have a way to hear from employees about what they need to do their jobs better. Customer feedback can help managers understand the strengths and weaknesses within their team, but employee feedback can identify where tools, information systems, or processes and policies make it difficult for employees to deliver on the customer experience vision. By instituting a structured approach to capture these insights from employees, an organization arms its managers to address those things within their power and rolls up larger improvement opportunities that need to be addressed at the enterprise level.

When an organization seizes the opportunity to improve customer experience by putting an ear to the employee experience, it will propel its customer-centric culture. Employees will be more engaged in delivering on customer expectations. Experiences will improve because obstacles to CX and EX success are identified and addressed. And both managers and employees become activated to take action on the moments that matter most to deliver positive experiences to customers and employees.