We all interact with various employees of organizations on a daily basis. Whether you go to the bank to cash a check, to a store to purchase a TV, a supermarket to buy groceries, or call up an airline to check a flight. Any situation in which employees interact with customers follows the same template. There is never too much deviation from what happens and from what you expect when interacting with a brand. So if the entire experience of employee and customer interaction is similar, then what makes it stand out? What is it that allows for some organizations to create superior customer experiences while others are mediocre at best?

It's the employees--they are the X factor. They are the ones who can go above and beyond expectation to make your experience great. Employees do this through discretionary effort. In other words, they decide how much effort to put into helping you.

So why is this so important to know? We spend a lot of time and research on customer experience. We do surveys, journey maps, market analysis, and a host of other things to improve how customers interact with our organizations. While these things are important and do help, the one thing that most neglect to focus on is the employee experience. We assume that so much of customer satisfaction and happiness is outward facing, when the reality is that organizations also must look inward to create employee experiences. Employee experiences come first, customer experiences come second.

The two concepts are actually quite similar, so much so, that some organizations actually bring in their customer experience teams to help design employee experiences. So how do you design a better employee experience? The good news is that every organization regardless of size, industry, or location, only needs to focus on three things: the cultural environment, the technological environment, and the physical environment, this is what I like to call the employee experience equation.

 inline image



This refers to how employees feel at your organization; this is the vibe that your brand gives off. The corporate culture is shaped by everything from organizational structure (hierarchy vs. flat) to leadership style (command and control vs. collaboration) to compensation and benefits.


This environment is about the tools that employees use to get their jobs done. It includes everything from the laptops and desktops to the apps and software to the phones and devices that employees use on a daily basis. Oftentimes this is where the topic of "digital transformation" falls.

Physical space

There's no secret here. The physical space refers to the actual environment that employees work in. This includes everything from the cubicles or the open floor plan to the art that hangs on the walls to the catered meals (or lack of) to the dress code that your organization might have. Everything that you can see, touch, taste, and smell, falls into the realm of physical space.

Making sure that employees genuinely want to work for your organization (versus need to work there) is the best way to deliver superior customer experiences. Examine what your corporate culture looks like and if your employees truly feel a sense of purpose, worth, and fairness. Look at the tools that your employees are using and ask if they truly reflect the type of technology they can and should expect in 2016, and walk around your office to understand if the physical workplace that your organization has created actually reflects the values of your organization.

It's impossible to create great customer experiences without first creating great employee experiences.