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Which is more important? Customer Experience (CX) or Employee Experience (EX)

Many professionals would argue that both are important. So is this a trick question? Which experience should take precedence?

It turns out companies with a balanced emphasis on the customer and the employee’s experiences position themselves in the sweet spot with the most potential for exceptional results.

It is difficult to provide a positive customer experience when the employee experience is negative. Unhappy employees don’t usually bring their best effort to the job. And that can adversely affect the customer experience.

So start from the inside and work your way out. Start by focusing on the employee experience. Then move quickly to the customer experience and create a balance where both are kept as top priorities.

Employee Experience

What’s at stake with the employee experience? If employees hate their job, their negative attitude will affect every aspect of their performance…which includes dealing with customers. If they dislike their job enough to quit, you will spend more of your valuable time and energy recruiting new help and then training and onboarding them.

On the other hand, if an employee has a positive and rewarding work environment they are more likely to be happier and perform better. It’s a proven fact that happy employees do better work.

Ask yourself this question…Why would someone want to work for our company?

It goes to the way employees are treated, but also directly ties to customer experience. Without happy employees you will not have engaged employees. And a lack of engagement can impact customer experience. Take a look at the list of the best places to work for and the companies with the best customer service and you are guaranteed to see an overlap.


Customer Experience

We all know negative news spreads faster than positive news, especially now with the prevalence of social media. If a customer has a poor experience, not only will they never return but they are more than likely going to leave a negative review, which will keep others from ever giving you a shot.

Customers are more than happy to tell friends, family, or anyone who will listen to avoid your business.

On the other hand, if a customer has a positive experience, they’ll become a repeat customer. In turn, they will refer others to you, which is the best kind of advertising!

Ask yourself this…Why should someone do business with me?

What makes us better than our competition? What do we do differently…and does it affect customer experience?

Finding Balance

What is happening on the inside of a company can definitely be felt on the outside by customers. But as much as you focus on creating a positive customer service experience, the same effort needs to be made to enhance the working environment for employees.




“Our Customer Service is Broken”


These were the words shared by McDonald’s last week during a webconference with franchisees. The company has been struggling as of late, and an increase of complaints has not helped.


While there were some complaints related to food quality, these were overshadowed by the other complains related to customer service and employee attitude. Namely, the most complaints revolved around:


1. Rude or unprofessional employees

2. Orders taking too long to be prepared


These are some major factors in customer service, and while McDonald’s continues to be a frontrunner in the industry, continued complaints and service related issues can hurt them in the long run.
One of their challenges lies in the franchised based system – it’s difficult sometimes to ensure all franchisees are holding the same standards as corporate does, and to make sure that all operational procedures are being strictly adhered to.


This increase in complaints has definitely gotten their attention, and they will be working hard to overcome the challenges, improve service levels, and get back to where they used to be as far as customer service and satisfaction.


What can a company do when this happens? Since an increase in complaints signals concern, there are some steps that can be taken to pinpoint, address, and fix issues:


1. Determine if it’s a company-wide or regional problem. It might be there are only some locations that are showing signs of concern, or it may be a particular region. Start with these areas and talk with district managers who are responsible for these locations; has there been a change in any way? Is the manager seeing similar issues when visiting locations? It’s time to work with management for a clear review and observation to pinpoint issues.


2. Look for training opportunities. There may be a slew of new staff that may not have been trained properly, or a similar issue causing the decreased service levels. Determine if additional training is needed.


3. Ramp up your mystery shopping program. Check to see that you’re measuring the right aspects of the business. With franchises especially, it can be difficult to get buy in, especially if corporate offers mystery shopping services at the franchisee’s expense.


If you’re not doing so, it might be time to incorporate an incentive program tied to the mystery shopping program. Rewarding good service can increase its likelihood.


4. Talk to your employees. if you’re seeing a decline in service across a particular location, region, or even company wide, implement an anonymous employee feedback survey to ask employees for their thoughts and opinions regarding their work, their satisfaction, and ask for suggestions for improvement. Based on responses, this could be a great starting point for additional conversations with your employees, or signal the need for more or different training to give your employees a chance to be successful in their work.


Employee morale and work satisfaction have a direct correlation to customer service levels; when your company is seeing an increase in customer complaints, it’s time to start paying attention.



What Message Do Your Actions Give Employees?


Actions speak louder than words, and in business, this is no exception. I’ve read many news articles since the election that revolve around companies putting layoffs into place since Obama was re-elected. The main reason cited in these articles surrounds “Obamacare” – simply put, these companies are stating that they will have to layoff employees or cut work hours of current employees so as not to have to cover insurance, stating that it will cost more than they can afford.


I can understand their frustration in this regard, if it is true. If companies are faced with additional cost, they may have to make some tough decisions. However, what caught my attention is that I read an article on Friday about a larger company who stated these exact sentiments, yet over the weekend I viewed several commercials with high profile spokespeople for the very same company. I know advertising isn’t cheap, and it is necessary, BUT…..


What message are you sending to your employees? We need to make cuts, but we’re not going to change our advertising spend. In fact, we’re going to cut your hours or completely eliminate your job. That sends a message that bringing customers in is more important than the employees a company hires.


It may not be that simple, or that cut and dried, but it does send a message.


In another newsworthy item this weekend, I came across an article that talked about a drug store chain that spent several thousand dollars on advertising to bring customers in to their stores. While it worked well, and people came in to redeem the sales in the ad, there were issues with redemption of the offer, and employees (and managers) were not able to honor the offer because of a simple glitch that no one had the authority to fix. From what I understand, it made many customers unhappy, some vowing never to return to the store.  While all of this money was spent getting people into the store, not enough funds were focused on employees and providing them training and tools necessary to fully assist customers. I’m sure it was not their intent, but they set up the employees to fail. That sent a message too, intended or not; the company was focused on increased sales without making sure their front line employees were able to be successful and provide the service customers expect.


The economy has been rough, to say the least, for the last several years, but your employees are the face of your business. While it’s true that they are valued, and you could not run your business without them, it’s wise to make decisions focused on thinking through what message you may be sending to your employees. Empowered employees with strong morale will help you meet your goals. After all, you can bring in thousands of customers a day, but if your front line isn’t able or willing to provide great customer service, everyone loses.