While it may seem counterintuitive, any organization that wants to deliver a great customer experience shouldn’t focus on its customers first, but rather on its employees. Engaged employees are valuable assets, and they trigger a virtuous cycle that drives great customer experiences, leading to more loyal customers and stronger financial results. In fact, Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Benchmark (2016) found that 75 percent of employees at companies with strong customer experience results were highly or moderately engaged, compared to only 49 percent at companies whose customer experience was worse than competitors.
Yet despite research showing that more than 70 percent of companies have an ongoing commitment to significant employee engagement efforts, the level of employee engagement inside companies did not change between 2015 and 2016. One of the reasons companies struggle to engage employees is that their HR department does not participate enough in these efforts. In fact, when we work with large organizations, we often find that the HR groups haven’t fully embraced their role in either the company’s customer experience or employee engagement efforts, and that disconnect matters! When an HR group is significantly involved in an organization’s CX efforts with employees, the company is four times more likely to deliver a customer experience that is significantly above average in its industry.
For companies that want to deliver a great customer experience, employee engagement is not optional. The good news is that recent Temkin Group research with 300 HR professionals uncovered some reasons to believe HR’s involvement in helping their companies become more customer-centric is changing in the right direction:
- Customer centricity is getting more attention. HR professionals not only indicated an increase in the belief that their companies need to become more customer-centric; they also reported higher levels of participation in this change. The percentage of HR professionals who responded that they are significantly helping their organizations become more customer-centric doubled over the past four years from 15 to 31 percent.
- HR is finding niches for CX collaboration. Six out of 10 HR respondents felt they were at least considerably involved in their company’s CX efforts, with HR leading the work in adjusting hiring and recruiting practices. When it comes to HR and CX teams working together, they are most successful in incorporating CX into training and onboarding and developing measurements and incentives to reinforce good customer-centric behaviors.
- HR has more time and wants more CX outreach. When it comes to the obstacles that impede HR professionals’ ability to help their companies become more customer-centric, the obstacle that dropped the most the last four years is HR professionals not having enough time. The only obstacle that increased over the last four years, coming in as the second most common obstacle, is that the CX organization has not engaged HR.
Finding Ways for HR and CX to Work Together
There are many opportunities for HR and CX to work together, especially in the existing processes and activities that the HR organization manages for the company. Here are a few specific opportunities for CX/HR collaboration:
- Hiring and onboarding. CX and HR professionals can collaborate on ways to screen individuals for the attitudes and abilities needed to deliver on the company’s CX vision. For example, Disney Store job interviews are conducted like “casting calls” and include role-playing in-store scenarios to demonstrate potential guest interactions.
- Training and development. CX subject matter expertise and instructional design skills are often divided between the two departments. CX pros can work shoulder-to-shoulder with HR to contribute the required knowledge to design and deliver training to help employees become more customer-centric.
- Performance management. Many organizations put a lot of energy into defining what they want to accomplish, but don’t adequately define how employees need to act in order to achieve those objectives. CX and HR can work together to ensure that employee goal setting and evaluation processes include role-specific expectations or measures of success that connect employees’ efforts to the CX strategy.
- Rewards and recognition. When embarking on CX change, it’s important for the company to examine how it recognizes and rewards employees. CX and HR teams can make sure the desired employee behaviors are reinforced with the appropriate formal reward programs, peer-to-peer recognition opportunities, and team celebrations.
The bottom line is that unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers. Now is the time for the CX and HR teams to come together to engage employees in the company’s customer experience efforts.