As a term, customer-centricity became a trending expression when organizations started adopting customer relationship management, due to its frequent use by vendors of CRM software. Today, it encompasses both business processes and cultural mindsets, but also the actual way of doing things within a given company.
A customer-centric approach has been proven to add value to a company, as a cultural and branding element but also as a business differentiator. What it translates to is putting customers above everything else and at the heart of every decision.
But what about the customer within? What about one of the key resources that ensure a company’s competitive advantage over other businesses?
Not only is this a logical question every business should come to, but it also points to the strong relationship between customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
“At present you’ve got employee engagement on one side of the fence, and you’ve got customer experience on the other side of the fence. Both of those topics are being seen to be important to business. Both of these strategies are becoming common now. But I don’t see a lot of organisations pulling them together.”
Colin Shaw, founder of customer experience consultancy Beyond Philosophy via Mycustomer.com
Combining customer-centricity and employee-centricity is a smart strategy for a multitude of reasons. Here are some essential pointers identified in a study by Northwestern University – Linking Organizational Characteristics to Employee Attitudes and Behavior – A Look at the Downstream Effects on Market Response & Financial Performance:
- There is a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance.
- The key organizational characteristic for explaining employee satisfaction is organizational communication (a measure of the downward and upward communication in an organization).
- Employee satisfaction is a key antecedent to employee engagement. Interaction between managers and employees with regards to supportiveness and goal setting, as well as job design were also key drivers of employee engagement.
- Organizational culture was another significant driver of employee engagement, where employees must be expected to cooperate and work together, but also to take charge and provide a voice for the customer within the organization. A fully cooperative culture feels the need to reach consensus on a single option, where a culture promoting healthy competition provides multiple choices which are then balanced against one another in an attempt to develop an optimal solution.
- When individuals and teams are competing to implement the optimal behaviors oriented to the market and its customers, such competition can work to the advantage of both the organization and its customers.
- Organizations with engaged employees have customers who use their products more, and increased customer usage leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
- It is an organization’s employees who influence the behavior and attitudes of customers, and it is customers who drive an organization’s profitability through the purchase and use of its products.
- In the end, customers who are more satisfied with an organization’s products are less expensive to serve, use the product more, and, hence, are more profitable customers.
But the reality is that companies have yet to acknowledge and devote the same resources to employee-centricity as they do customer-centricity, ignoring the strong link between the two.
Employees – the customers within
Talent is in high demand. Valuable, high performing employees are even scarcer. The “war for talent” is projected to be one of the top employee engagement trends/challenges in 2016. Demographic data, economic conditions and social tendencies have made it clear to analysts that talent will be limited in the years to come.
The pressure keeps building on companies to find and employ top talent to stay ahead of their industry – 38% of HR managers surveyed in CareerBuilder’s 2015 U.S. Job Forecast are focusing on building their talent pipeline. But what some are frequently missing is the fact that they need to engage and retain that talent. This can prove to be as tricky a task as recruiting it in the first place.
By creating a coherent employee experience, designed to attract the right people, engage and and retain them as they drive company growth, companies can reach the desired HR objectives and also drive customer satisfaction.
Creating an engaging employee experience
As talent becomes more and more important, HR practitioners should look at the customer-centric marketing model to map out the employee experience that their organization offers, in such a way that it encourages engagement and retention.
Companies should look at creating an integrated employee experience that tracks a candidate from their first contact with the company brand, until their last day at the office and even further. Every interaction that an employee has with your brand is an engagement touch point that can ensure the success or the failure of your strategy. Download our white paper to find out how you can map out an engaging employee experience using people analytics.
The employee experience is the sum of all the interactions between that employee and your company. It starts with the first social media post they see, the first job listing or the first headhunting email, and ends with keeping in touch even after they leave.
Throughout this experience, a number of emotions, processes, people and objects are involved, and they can either be linked effectively to attract, engage and retain top talent or they can be disconnected and perpetuate high turnover and disengagement.
If you’re interested in practical ideas for every step of the employee experience, download our latest white paper – Improving The Employee Experience Using People Analytics.