Integrating Employee and Customer Experience Data: Blueprint for a Business Imperative

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The overwhelming majority of companies talk about connecting EX (Employee Experience) and CX (Customer Experience), but they are not integrating their employee and customer experience data. They look at the data side-by-side, create conceptual frameworks, draw pictures and arrows, pontificate, but then fail to actually connect/merge/integrate the data. This is like gathering the ingredients for your favorite recipe, thinking about what you’ll create, but never doing the cooking.

E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E recognizes that employees are key to delivering the customer experience.

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  • “Our data clearly shows that EX leaders deliver better customer experiences” (Forrester, May 18, 2021)
  • “85% of respondents agree that an improved employee experience and higher employee engagement translate to a better customer experience, higher customer satisfaction, and higher revenues for their organization. (IDC Blog, Sept 17, 2021. emphasis in original)
  • “The Direct Connection Between Employee Experience and Customer Experience” (Forbes blog, May 5, 2022)

As far back as 1994(!), the HBR classic article The Service Profit Chain postulated that customer satisfaction was a foundational determinant of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

No one disagrees. So why aren’t more firms doing the hard work of analyzing the direct relationship between EX and CX?

    Silos. The data tend to be gathered and managed by different parts of the organization, often on different systems.
    Politics. Information is power and turf wars are endemic in many firms.
    Short-sightedness. I’ll probably take some lumps for this, but let’s face it: traditional EX work is inward looking and has not been focused on employees as the customer experience delivery system. The reality is that people hide behind the employee anonymity issue. But this is a strawman position, as integrating EX and CX data can be done anonymously and isn’t about identifying individual employee EX survey responses

The Three Questions

Linking EX and CX data unlocks the key to help answer three questions that are essential to every company.

  1. How does the employee experience affect specific customer experiences?The outcomes here are specific individual customer experiences, however measured. This approach makes the most sense when the outcome is a specific customer transaction or interaction, as opposed to the larger customer relationship. The underlying issue: How do the experiences of employees affect the experiences of customers?
  2. How does EX influence or shape the overall customer relationship?The outcome here is the overall customer relationship metric, such as OSat, NPS or any other relationship metric. In this case, the question would be how do EX and transactional CX combined affect the customer relationship?
  3. How do EX and CX combined drive business outcomes and customer behaviors?A somewhat more sophisticated iteration of #2, the focus here is on business outcomes or customer behaviors, such as unit or overall sales, profitability, etc. or customer retention, spend or frequency of shop. The business question in this case would be how do EX and CX combined affect or influence the business outcome and customer behaviors?

Connecting the Data

Answering these questions of universal concern to any company requires integrating EX and CX data, not merely comparing them in separate reports, spreadsheets, dashboards, or analyses.

Integration requires addressing the dreaded “level of analysis” question. That is, at what level do you forge the connection between EX and CX data? The best level of analysis will vary depending on the nature of the business issue, the type of business, the business question and, of course, what data are available.

  • Micro connection: this would apply when there is a direct link between an employee and a customer. In most of these scenarios the direct micro connection applies to the EX drives CX model, as the employee usually is handling a specific interaction, not the overall customer relationship. This analysis is all about understanding how individual employee experiences shape individual customer experiences, how differences in the individual employee experience manifest themselves in differences in individual customer experiences.
  • Unit-level connection: this would apply when there is a direct link between a customer and an employee team or group where the individual employees involved can’t be readily identified as dealing with a particular customer or are anonymous. Unit-level connections can be used to address each of the three questions – it just depends on the client’s objectives and questions.
  • Macro connection: this would be appropriate when we are dealing with overall EX and CX results that cannot be directly linked to an individual employee or groups of employees or where the objective is to understand the gestalt of the employee/customer relationship and their impact on business outcomes. Macro connections lend themselves to relationship-level and business outcome analyses, as opposed to individual experiences.

So, What’s the Problem?

There are technical issues involved when integrating data that often have been collected and managed in different systems, but these aren’t the real obstacles. It’s the silos that many people want to protect. It’s the politics of control. It’s the short-sightedness of not seeing a larger picture.

The challenge is that CX and data managers typically lack the authority to overcome these problems. This is where leadership must step in and smash the silos, over-ride the politics, and present a broader vision that trumps the short-sightedness. The results will be worth the effort.


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