How Can You Have Great Customer Experience Without Great Internal Experience?

Everyone is talking about how to improve the customer experience because, of course, happy customers result in increased revenue. It’s no wonder they get such a huge share of our attention.

Source: skynesher / E+ / Getty

We were at a tech meeting in Arizona. The focus was on customers, and it became clear that a huge amount of money and energy was going to delivering exceptional customer experience (CX).

Most companies in attendance had very elaborate processes that involved what the right words were and when to say them, how to send customers to other experts in the company, how long employees could talk to each customer, and on and on.

But, all of this investment and process engineering didn’t really seem to be working. Not only were customer satisfaction rates rather miserable across the board, but something else became clear as well. The massive amount of CX training had to be constant—not because ideas were changing but because turnover was outrageously high. Constantly onboarding new people and lots of rules and procedures mean constant training.

But, what is really the root cause of dismal customer experience? Is it possible that high turnover, including dismal employee engagement, has anything to do with it?

Then it hit me like a thunderbolt—“You’re fixing the wrong thing!” I wanted to shout.

How could employees possibly be kind to customers if they were miserable? These companies were focusing on the wrong thing entirely; they need to stop focusing on the CX and start focusing on the internal experience (iX)  of their companies.

Imagine you have two employees: one is clearly delighted to be there and one is completely miserable. Who is going to give better service? At a call center, who is going to answer the phone with a smile in their voice? At a car dealership, who is going to sell more cars? At a private school, who is going to have better student results? In a sales position, who is going to generate more revenue? In an executive assistant role, who is going to be the better face of the C-suite?

In a high-turnover environment, there is a lack of incentive for management to establish rapport and high-performing teams—in fact, there might not even be enough time to develop the team at all, let alone achieve beyond-expected results.

In a high-turnover environment, there is no incentive to spend time getting to know someone who might be gone in just a few months. Coworkers don’t give any grace for interpersonal conflict or challenges inside or outside the workplace. Why would they?

Employees from every generation value two things above all others—family and learning. It takes time to develop a sense of value and trust, and if there is a different person at the same desk all the time, it’s hard to even get to know one another.

Investing in employees through training and development occurs when management believes that the person will be around to support and grow the company. If everyone leaves in under a year, management won’t even consider providing training beyond what it takes to get your job done.

Already, the very short-term nature of staff essentially precludes the two things (family and learning) that people seek in a job. This, you guessed it, just exacerbates the problem—people leave as soon as they can figure out that there is nothing for which to stay.

The Solution

Everyone wants to retain quality staff—that’s no great secret. Companies are nothing without their people.

So, why is it so hard? Why aren’t leaders able to keep their people? It is past time for a refocusing on iX—on how we work together as a team, how we develop a culture that people want to stay in; a culture where they’ll line up and fight by your side when the time comes.

We all know what that company should look like. People trust each other. There is a real feeling that we’re all in it together. People are proud to work there and proud to work alongside each other.

But, we seem to be lacking the basic leadership skills it takes to create the cultures we ALL desire (and deserve!). That’s the biggest irony here—everyone wants it. Why are we making it so darn hard to achieve?

I know what you’re thinking—I don’t control my employees’ happiness. True. But, you design the environment in which they work day in and day out—by accident or intent—which directly contributes to their ability to thrive at work.

You control the degree to which technology eases their daily activities (or complicates it). You identify the type of people you promote to positions of authority. You decide how much liberty each area has to determine flexible workplaces. You decide if new regulations are a burden or an opportunity. You set expectations of your leadership. And that’s just scratching the surface of your influence.

If your CX is critical to success in your business, but your strategy doesn’t seem to be overly effective, it’s time to pivot the attention to your iX. Create a structure in which your people can thrive, and you’ll never have to worry about the quality of your customer care ever again.

Rachel MK Headley, PhD, Senior Partner at Rose Group Int’l, brings a methodical and razor-sharp intellect to solve problems that suit her client organization, its ideal culture, and business goals. She is a Mensa PhD scientist, a certified Project Management Professional, TEDx speaker, and she serves on the Council of Trustees for South Dakota State University. Partnering with Meg Manke at Rose Group Int’l, they developed their proprietary iX leadership framework, which allows business leaders to solve problems within their teams, address generational issues, manage big changes, and accomplish their most ambitious goals. For more information about Headley’s book, iX Leadership: Create High-Five Cultures and Guide Transformation, click here. For more information about Rose Group Int’l, please visit https://rosegroupintl.com/. Connect with her @sprfsh_rachel on Twitter and on LinkedIn.