It’s been a popular topic here on Rockstar CMO, that Rockstar marketing starts at home. Pulling together the backing band of employees and colleagues to not just build a better brand by enabling them to improve the experience for the customer, but to become evangelists in our increasingly connected world. Jane Scandurra shares her experience of how we can make that happen.

Focusing on customer experience management may be the single most important investment a brand can make in today’s competitive business climate and overall attention economy – especially as we head into a new decade of continued technological innovation and accelerated disruption.

According to Gartner, 81 percent of companies now expect to compete primarily on the basis of the experience they provide customers. That’s not too surprising, given the many ways a customer can now directly interact with a company. However, most organizations are not focusing enough on the growing evidence pointing to the most critical component of the customer experience – their employees.

There’s lots of research to show that a highly engaged workforce may be the key to delivering a better customer experience:

  • Gallup reports that employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer service and can result in a 20% increase in sales.
  • Similarly, HR consultancy, Tower Perrins, reports that engaged employees can average a 19.2% increase in profitability, while companies that experience high engagement have also seen 147% higher earnings per share.

All good news, right? Well, only if your company has a highly engaged workforce. Unfortunately, here’s the serious disconnect:

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace survey, 85% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs the world over. Equally disturbing, only 41% of employees felt that they know what their organization stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors’ brands.

Marketing needs to help to instill the customer-centric mindset across the organization

If your employees don’t have a customer-centric mindset and don’t have the motivation to keep (internal AND external) customers happy, it’s not likely that you’re delivering the best customer experience and, therefore, not delivering the best bottom line results. Employees want to have a sense of purpose in their careers (just ask a millennial), so improving their understanding of how they fit into the customer experience is critical.

Employees who are enthusiastic and actively work to move key initiatives forward feel a stronger sense of purpose and are more likely to stay longer with an organization. When they can focus on their strengths, they feel better about themselves, have a higher sense of self-worth and are able to contribute in a higher capacity. Everybody wins.

McKinsey agrees that the customer experience begins at home reporting that “the closer a company can align its commitment to customer-centricity with the interests of its employees, the closer it will get to achieving its customer-strategy goals.” One aspect of aligning with employee motivations was highlighted my recent CMO Rockstar article, Wait…what’s in it for ME?

Traditional marketing strategies applied inwardly can have positive impact on engagement

Traditional HR departments don’t communicate with employees for reasons of improving customer experience. Annual HR ‘employee sentiment’ surveys, generic ‘one size fits all’ top-down employee communications, don’t do the trick. Likewise, ‘exit interviews’ tell you nothing about why highly engaged employees choose to stay – just as interviewing divorcees will not tell you what makes a strong marriage. 

HR and internal communications teams need to borrow some strategies from customer success and marketing and apply them inwardly – segmentation, data analysis, motivating campaigns, and so on.

Incorporating more branding education into onboarding efforts as well as into ongoing departmental objectives would help a lot. Overall, there needs to be formal partnering across internal functions to deliver an effective and customer-centric employee experience.

Marketing can play a lead role and be the bridge between internal culture and the organization’s external brand to ensure everyone is singing in harmony to deliver the best customer experience. I believe this cross-functional approach will become a more important focus in the decade ahead. Hopefully, cross-functional budgets will match the seriousness of the effort required.

As the future of work continues to evolve, the smartest and most successful organizations will continuously learn how to meet the expectations of their people.

Sir Richard Branson sums it up well, Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.

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