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How positive employee experience can make companies truly customer-centric

Katie Whitehouse Profile picture for user Katie Whitehouse March 12, 2024
Summary:
There's an intrinsic link between customer experience and employee experience. For businesses whose goal is to keep the two aspects in harmony, Katie Whitehouse of ServiceNow has three pieces of practical advice.

Customer experience concept. Five stars and color figures © designer491 - Canva.com
(© designer491 - Canva.com)

Cost of living crisis. Supply chain disruption. Threats of a recession. Business leaders, seeking to protect business growth and revenue, have never been under so much pressure to deliver first class customer experiences (CX) to uphold brand loyalty. Yet, with a range of economic headwinds, it’s never been so hard. Amid this, the focus on positive employee experience (EX) can easily fall to the wayside to prioritize CX. But leaders need to recognize the intrinsic link between the two to drive trust in a brand, particularly when consumers are increasingly conscious of the way companies treat their employees.

Nine in ten (90%) consumers across EMEA say it’s important to them that the companies they deal with treat their employees well, and almost two-thirds of consumers (63%) would be less inclined to deal with a company knowing that its employees are unhappy, according to ServiceNow research.

Employees are the face of an organization from the customers’ perspective. Naturally, this has a direct impact on the customer’s journey which ultimately leads to the CX reflecting the EX. Brands need to create a working environment that nurtures staff satisfaction to win over customers in the long-term. Here are three key areas where EX can impact CX to build trust and loyalty.

Equip employees with knowledge

Today’s employees face an ever-increasing ‘digital sprawl’, where they have to use so many different devices, products and services just to work. In fact, employees can spend up to four hours reorienting themselves when toggling between applications. This can lead to disengagement. Having simple digital access points where employees can acquire the learning, training and information they need will help keep them connected with their work and goals, and to the company overall.

Our research found that salary aside, other priorities for employees include flexible working (40%), learning and development (30%), and clear pathways to progression (29%). Self-service technology empowers employees to source and request information in a fluid manner, without requiring the in-person shoulder tap. Tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots can give employees immediate access to the information they need at the moment they need it most. Furthermore, today’s workforce is increasingly expecting consumer grade experiences when engaging with technology.

Remove the bottlenecks

An accumulation of manual tasks and outdated systems are notorious for eating up time that employees could be spending providing support. But offering simple, unified tools is key to removing the hurdles that can unlock productivity and engagement.

Formed following the merger of three Coca-Cola bottlers in 2016, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) inherited multiple disparate systems and legacy technology. Many processes were manual, with up to 90% of the 200,000 annual service desk requests coming in via email. Because shared services are a critical part of the company, CCEP needed a way to simplify and harmonize HR processes to improve the general digital hygiene of the workplace.

Leveraging ServiceNow, CCEP used AI and machine learning (ML) to automatically scan emails and use the data to populate request forms. Agents within the company were freed from lengthy, manual processes, allowing them to focus on more rewarding tasks, while employees see queries resolved faster, with 40% handled by ML.

Martha Merk, CCEP's Associate Director, Business Partner Shared Services, says: 

We use ServiceNow in other areas of the business and have always had a very positive experience.

Eliminating emails full of unstructured text means that our agents can respond to requests far faster. With the agents working from a streamlined and organized knowledge base, customers are getting their cases closed in a timely manner.

Create more opportunities

As satisfied as they can be with their work culture, if employees don’t have a clear trajectory forward in their current careers, they can still feel stagnant and unhappy. Many want a defined path injected by the learning and development opportunities to ensure they’re engaged while equipped with the skills they need to succeed in their role and beyond.

Digital tools to build and manage career goals enable employees to manage their own development. Our own RiseUp with ServiceNow program aims to skill up to one million people on the ServiceNow platform by 2024, with 600 free courses that participants can consume at their own pace or through digital skills bootcamps and university-level degrees. By developing their product, service, and industry expertise, the next generation of the UK workforce will be better placed to meet customers where they need.

Employees should be encouraged and instilled with confidence to take ownership of their own developmental journey. Providing a centralized learning resource that is easily accessible encourages independent learners while fostering a culture that will motivate and engage employees. The point is to ensure this process is as frictionless as possible to make more room for productivity, innovation and success across the board.

At ServiceNow, we have an online learning platform, frED, available to all employees. It’s a one-stop-shop for both internal and external learning resources, curated and personalized to individuals with new courses recommended to employees based on their history. Whether they want to learn about presentation skills to project management, everything is there for them on-demand so they can own their career.

A clear path forward

Removing friction for employees has a positive knock on effect, encouraging seamless processes that are beneficial for the customer. Technology is an enabler and the foundation of improving EX to drive value for the customer.

Employees who are self-sufficient, equipped with the relevant knowledge, and can take ownership of their own processes are best placed to deliver optimal CX. If organizations start approaching their EX in the same way they approach CX, it will result in internal and external brand ambassadors, ultimately boosting loyalty and customer trust. And while price may be a guiding factor for consumer brand choices during economic turmoil, richer experiences that lead with understanding and empathy are what will retain and attract customers for good.

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