Customer Experience Starts by Ignoring Your Customer

This is a guest post by Dr. Tracy Maylett, Ed.D.. Dr. Maylett is the Chief Executive Officer of DecisionWise, an HR management and consulting firm specializing in employee engagement. He offers an intriguing viewpoint on providing great customer experience.

Want a Great Customer Experience?

Is your organization’s success dependent upon creating an extraordinary Customer Experience? Then start by ignoring your customer. No, really.

 

“If you want a successful customer experience, start by ignoring your customer.” -Tracy Maylett

 

Throwing resources at your customer experience does not guarantee a transformative one. You can redesign stores, roll out cool new products, and engage customers on social media. You can implement every form of customer satisfaction measurement known to man. There’s nothing wrong with those steps. But without employees who care, a beautiful store is just a pretty shell. A sparkly new product is just another new release with a limited lifespan—if it even makes it out of the production room.

Without people engaged in their work, where are those cool innovations coming from? Where are the people who care about the superlative customer experience? Don’t get me started on the dangers of having jaded staffers interacting with customers on social media.

 

“Throwing resources at your customer experience does not guarantee a transformative one.” -Tracy Maylett

 

It All Begins with Your Employees

Creating a strong customer experience is like gardening: hoping and measuring won’t give you the results you want. Gardening requires tending to the components that create the desired outcome: using soil amendments, watering, and weeding. The gardener can’t do much more than that. But, assuming it’s done well, the odds of a solid harvest are high.

Growing a successful organization works in the same way. Success comes through quality products, stellar customer support, prudent financial decisions, great leadership, and employees who personally care about delivering an extraordinary customer experience. When an organization can create a top-notch Employee Experience, the likelihood of delivering a superior customer experience increases exponentially.

The opposite is also true: When employee experience is poor, the customer experience will reflect it. We call this the “Law of Congruent Experience.”

 

“When employee experience is poor, the customer experience will reflect it.” -Tracy Maylett

 

THE LAW OF CONGRUENT EXPERIENCE:

Employees will deliver a Customer Experience that matches their own experience in the organization.

Over the past three years, management consulting firm DecisionWise has analyzed over 25 million employee survey responses. We have found some interesting correlations between the way employees view the customer experience and their own employee experience.

We often ask employees to rate their agreement to the following statement:

“I believe our department provides quality products and services to our customers.”

“Customer,” for some, could mean an end-user. For others, it might be an internal customer or another department. For a teacher, it’s the student. For a restaurant, it’s the person scarfing down the cheese pizza. For a hospital, it’s the patient.

When it comes to the way employees rate statements related to both quality of products and customer satisfaction, most organizations receive strong marks. When we correlate these customer experience statistics with survey questions related to an employee’s overall experience, we find that when employee experience ratings are high, employee views of how their departments deliver customer experiences are also high. However, when statements related to overall employee experience are rated low, employee views of the level of service and quality they deliver is also low. In fact, in some organizations with a poor employee experience, we have observed that perceptions of service and quality are as low as half of what perceptions are in departments where employee experience is strong.

Let’s put this into perspective. Mike and Mark work for the same company. Mike’s overall employee experience is stellar. He feels he is growing, he trusts his manager, he is paid fairly, and he has the flexibility to pick up his son after school each day. He loves his job. Oh, and he also believes in the products he produces. When rating the statement, “I believe our department provides quality products and services to our customers,” he gives the company top marks. He stands behind the department’s customer experience.Tracy Maylett

Mark, on the other hand, dreads going to work each day. He’s six months overdue for a performance evaluation; he’s worked three of the last four weekends; he’s a week behind on emails, and he suspects the company may soon be consolidating his department. Overall, Mark is having a poor employee experience, and it shows in the way he responds to the employee survey. When rating the statement, “I believe our department provides quality products and services to our customers,” Mark trashes the organization—a 2 out of 5 on the survey. And Mark isn’t the only one in his department who feels this way.

While these examples may seem like oversimplifications, they play out in day-to-day reality. The average score in the DecisionWise database with reference to the “quality products and services” statement is about 80% favorable. However, in organizations where the overall employee experience is poor, the “quality products and services” score can drop below 50% favorable.

 

“If your employees are having a great experience, so will your customers.” -Tracy Maylett

 

Employees are the face of your brand. Your employees interact with customers, make them smile, and carry your brand message from the warehouse to the front lines. If your employees are having a great experience, so will your customers. It’s the Law of Congruent Experience.

If you want a successful customer experience, start by ignoring your customer. Really. Your employees are the soil and nutrients in which your customer experience grows. If you have a workforce of engaged people who care enough to invest themselves in the organization, your customer experience will take care of itself.

EX = CX

 

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Look for Dr. Maylett’s book The Employee Experience: How to Attract Talent, Retain Top Performers, and Drive Results

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