As the employee engagement virtuous cycle points out, there’s a critical link between employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX). Organizations need great EX to sustain great CX. As Experience Management (XM) leaders increasingly understand this connection, we’ve seen a growing number of requests about how to harness the linkage. At the heart of this is a desire among organizations to understand how they can activate employees across the organization to drive CX and the resulting business outcomes, recognizing that business success doesn’t happen without a strong EX.

To help organizations think through their combined EX and CX efforts, we’ve identified four ways to align these key XM components. Efforts within each of the four categories should lead organizations toward a better understanding of how and why employees drive CX and the changes they can make that will have the biggest impact on the customer and business performance. 

Four Categories of CX and EX Alignment

We’ve defined four categories of EX and CX Alignment: Visualize, Analyze, Involve, and Converge.

Visualize: Present EX and CX Insights in a Single View

The goal of Visualize is to present senior leaders with actionable EX and CX insights alongside each other, inherently communicating that both are important to the business and should be used in decision making. Here are three steps to implement Visualize:

  • Anchor on key EX and CX metrics. To start, it is useful to identify and present relational EX and CX metrics that describe employees’ and customers’ overall relationships with the organizations. For instance, presenting customer NPS or CSAT alongside annual employee engagement metrics.  
  • Present within existing systems. When possible, these insights should be presented to leaders in a familiar format within normal systems they use to view data and make decisions. For instance, displaying insights within dashboards that senior leaders regularly use. 
  • Establish joint review protocols. The insights should be incorporated into collaborative discussions that focus on diagnosing and defining actionable next steps. For instance, leveraging regular business reviews to discuss both EX and CX insights along with other key metrics and KPIs. 

Analyze: Examine Statistical Links Between EX and CX

The goal of Analyze is to generate inferences about how EX affects CX or vice versa. These studies are generally longitudinal in nature and use historical EX metrics such as employee engagement to predict current or future CX metrics, such as NPS and CSAT, or customer behaviors such as repurchase and renewal. Ultimately, this category helps organizations identify the aspects of EX that have the greatest downstream impact on CX. To implement Analyze:

  • Identify a meaningful unit of analysis. In order to explore the connections between EX and CX data, each must be collected and attributed to a common unit. For instance, aggregating and attributing EX and CX insights to a retail sales location, contact center, or functional group.
  • Pinpoint future CX outcomes. Anchor on a CX metric or customer behavior that can be attributed to employees or groups of employees and that are central to desired business objectives. For example, isolating transactional metrics about agent friendliness, knowledge, and issue resolution in a contact center that are known to predict customer renewal and churn.
  • Capture EX drivers. EX drivers should be theoretically related to CX outcomes, directly actionable, and measured in advance of CX metrics to allow the necessary time for employee attitudes to manifest and impact customers. For example, measuring contact center agents’ feedback on the efficacy of their systems, enablement, and the level of autonomy to handle customer issues. 

Involve: Widely Include Employees Within CX Efforts

Unlike Visualize and Analyze, which deal with the insights being generated by organizations, Involve introduces ways in which employees can more directly impact CX results. Here are three elements for embracing Involve:

  • Identify employee-customer connection points. Focus on moments of truth across your customer journey where it’s most important that employees understand customers’ needs, deliver on brand promises, and improve experiences. For example, identifying direct connection points such as a point of sale, a service call, or service delivery experience.
  • Seek out feedback from employees. Establish structures to collect experience data (X-data) from employees in those critical intersections to bring context to customer interactions, surface CX barriers, and capture ideas for innovation. For example, giving employees the opportunity to provide feedback on high-touch customer interactions within a service center.  
  • Reinforce desired behaviors. Use feedback from customers and employees to find and spread best practices, celebrate people making a positive impact, and address performance gaps through training and coaching. For example, using customer and employee feedback to identify CX best practices of high-performing teams to disperse across the organization.

Converge: Align EX and CX Technologies and Competencies

The Converge category describes the organization-wide connection of XM resources, as described in our recent series on the CX principles that can propel EX management efforts. While this category is not typically the starting point for organizations, it is necessary for progressing beyond the basics in the other categories. To embrace Converge:

  • Create a unified vision. EX and CX professionals should meet and work toward aligning their objectives and the business outcomes they are trying to impact, then formally layout how EX efforts can support CX and vice versa. For example, outlining employee-facing initiatives such as new systems or training that are essential to improving customer experience pain points. 
  • Establish a shared Center of Excellence (COE). Bring together EX and CX professionals who are responsible for measuring and delivering great experiences to exchange approaches, best practices, and capabilities within a COE. These COEs may become formal functions over time but can start, simply, as collaborative work among XM professionals across the business. 
  • Align platforms and processes. In order to support the work of the COE and make the other categories of EX and CX alignment more natural, synchronize and consolidate the related platforms and processes that underpin this work. For example, standardize on an enterprise platform that collects and analyzes both EX and CX insights.  

The bottom line: EX and CX are valuable, but are far more powerful together. 

Benjamin Granger, Ph.D., XMP, is an XM Catalyst for Qualtrics XM Institute

Aimee Lucas, XMP, CCXP, is an XM Catalyst for Qualtrics XM Institute