Creating a great customer experience starts with understanding and improving the employee experience. Here’s how companies can navigate these challenges during the Great Resignation.
The Great Resignation has launched employee experience into the spotlight: a record 4.5 million Americans left their job in November 2021, breaking the previous record, which was made only two months earlier in September 2021. According to a Pew Research study, many are leaving jobs where they felt disrespected. Of course, this has had a negative effect on customer experience for many companies. Many companies are experiencing pressure from three sides: training new employees on the foundations, while more experienced employees leave, all while call volume continues to increase.
Employees now desire more flexibility in their lives. They want to be viewed for the quality of the work they’re delivering, not by when and how they’re delivering it. According to Pew Research from January 2022, 60% of Americans currently working remotely say that when COVID-19 is over, they’d prefer to continue working from home all or most of the time. In most cases, there’s no need to be in the office to be a valuable contributor to the organization. To stay competitive, employers will need to be more flexible in providing work-life balance, and in where employees work.
People’s lives have been upended over the last couple of years. What they knew, how they worked, and when they worked completely shifted, and they had no say in it. This has led to a few key changes in what a good work environment looks like—and employers need to pay attention. If you’re concerned about the effect the great resignation will have on your customer experience, you need to think deeply about your employee experience. People want to feel cared for; they want you to understand their needs, and they want to be appreciated. If you don’t want your employees to leave, show them you genuinely care about them.
How to support and retain employees
1. Give Employees Information
Employees do better at their job when they have access to the right information, like a 360-degree view of the customer they are serving. What has the customer called about in the past? What products or services is the customer using? Generally, a customer calls a contact center when they are having a poor experience or a problem, so arming that employee with as much information as possible to resolve it will help that employee do their job well. Giving employees access to this information also improves the customer experience. Instead of repeating information to a string of agents or wasting forever on the phone.
2. Give Employees Freedom
How many times have you called into a contact center and felt like the other person on the end of the line was reading from a script? Too many constrictions are bad for employee morale. Give your employees the freedom to ‘go off script’ and really connect with customers on a human level. Zappo’s famously gives each agent $100 a day to fix problems for customers. They don’t always use it, but they know it’s there if they need it, and it gives them the ability to win over a customer for life. As long as it’s not breaking the law or breaking the bank, trust your employees to build that customer loyalty.
3. Give Employees (And Customers) Better Technology
With technology, it can be tempting to just do what your competition is doing or focusing on improving one single interaction channel–but throwing technology at the problem isn’t the answer. You have to base any technology decisions in an understanding of what will actively improve your customer and employee experience. For example, around 76% of consumers today prefer some kind of self-service option. Giving customers the ability to self-serve allows your employees to focus on the customers who need that extra personal touch.
Whether it’s a better CRM that helps employees access customer data, or automating simpler processes so that employees can focus on challenges that need a human touch, evaluate any technology decision based off what your employees and customers want and need.
Companies are always thinking about their north star for customer experience. So why not focus on the north star from an employee experience?
Improving customer experience in your organization goes beyond introducing new technology solutions–it also requires a fundamental mindset shift, an audit of internal processes, and strategic organizational changes. Any conversation about customer experience has to start with employee experience. The two are inextricably linked: Your employees have invaluable insight into what might be getting in the way of providing a great experience for your customers. No matter how much you study what your customers want, you’ll likely miss key information if you aren’t consulting with employees as well.
It takes commitment to really change the customer experience. It’s no small effort—but if you start by understanding the experience of employees who interact directly with customers– whether those interactions are happening in-person, through email, or through a call center—you’ll have the insight you need to make real change.
About the Author
Kate Kompelien, director of customer experience solutions, Avtex.
Kate is a Customer Experience leader at Avtex, which designs, orchestrates, and enables CX. Kate focuses on coaching and educating across the design process. She has pioneered first-of-a-kind CX design processes (insights, mapping, behavioral research, design, and measurement) for Fortune 500 companies and services organizations.
Kate understands the importance for companies to differentiate in highly competitive markets and she drives change by listening, communicating, and collaborating while delivering exceptional output that results in increased revenue, improved customer loyalty, and aligned decision making.