A CEO’s guide to gaining Competitive Advantage and Driving Innovation with Employee and Customer Experience
I love a good sports movie, especially one with a motivational speech. For example: Think of Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, delivering an impassioned speech in the locker room, about the competitive advantage of seeing football as a game of inches and how teamwork is critical to winning. Then, of course, the team roars out onto the field toward victory.
Movie scripts aside, how would it impact your company if every day you could encourage your team to “roar onto the field” for you with that never-say-die attitude and a fervor to deliver for your customers? If your “players” understood and shared your company mission and their role in it, how much more productive would they be?
In business today, creating a positive employee and customer experience can be your competitive advantage. Both can also foster innovating thinking that can position your organization as a disruptor.
Most CEOs now agree that they should put a high priority on investing in CX, EX, or both, but many still are reluctant, because, like the character of Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire, who demands of his sports agent, “Show me the money,” CEOs are demanding of their managers, show me the ROI. If you are in this category, then this is for you.
Connecting the EX and CX dots to the bottom line
KPI that companies typically measure are not sufficient with respect to customer experience. An Oracle report cited that intangible assets account for 80% of the value of companies in the S&P 500 Index. They further stated that “respondents to the global survey cited the top value drivers for their businesses as customer satisfaction (76%), quality of business processes (64%) and customer relationships (63%). ”So-called “soft” metrics are driving business because the power has shifted to the customer across most industries.
Technology and social media have given them the voice, reach, and power to both disrupt and praise. Companies that do not seize opportunities to have an ongoing dialog with their employees and their clients are missing strategic opportunities for growth.
Brand ambassadorship begins on the inside of a company
Positive employee experience is essential to sustained exceptional customer experience. Positive employee experience drives engagement and productivity. Attracting and engaging the right employees will actually lead to a competitive advantage. Having engaged employees will lead to a customer-focused culture which will encourage customers to become more engaged, thus leading to a competitive advantage (Walker).
Engaged employees → Customer-centric culture → Better customer engagement→Competitive Advantage
Example: Nationstar Mortgage put EX before CX during their name and philosophy change to Mr. Cooper.
In a long-range plan to become a market leader in CX, the senior management initiated the transition over a year in advance with the employees, clearly and consistently immersing the 7,000 employees in the new customer-centric approach and message. When the rollout to customers is completed, the employees will be equipped and enthusiastic to deliver to customers.
Example: Retailer’s revenue spikes with omnichannel communication
Ascena Retail Group, Inc. (parent of dressbarn, Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Justice) experienced a 40% revenue increase after adding the ability for customers to communicate and purchase across all channels.
Example: Across 5 industries, better CX yielded higher revenue growth
According to Forrester research across 5 unrelated industries, they found that companies with a better CX approach and effort saw higher growth results. All results were over 2010-2015 period:
INDUSTRY– CX LEADER % GROWTH vs. CX LAGGARD % GROWTH
Airlines — Southwest 6.9% vs. (U.S) United —0.3%
Investments — Edward Jones 10% vs. Morgan Stanley 3.8%
Direct Investments– Charles Schwab 10.7% vs. E-trade 1.6%
Telecom — AT&T/Uverse 29.4% vs. Comcast 4.5%
Retail — Amazon (online) 27% vs. Walmart (brick/mortar)2%
Underperforming and negative feedback can, and should, be a roadmap to opportunities for growth
The feedback that dissatisfied customers and employees provide should be a road map for companies to identify red-flag patterns in their organizations and take steps to 1) correct the immediate situations and 2) use that information to forecast ways they can become a disruptor in their industries by providing what their competitors do not.
Creating environments for success
Research from The Employee Experience Advantage (Jacob Morgan, 2017) found that companies that created an Experiential Organization (excelling in culture, technology, and physical space) had “20 % fewer employees, 40% lower turnover, 1.5X the employee growth, 2.1X the average revenue, 4.4X the average profit, 2.9X more revenue per employee and 4.3X more profit per employee when compared with nonexperiential organizations.”
Strong internal communication increases engagement
Many companies that excel at communicating with customers unintentionally leave their employee communication to hastily written memos, or they deploy information on a “need-to-know” basis. This unintentional approach to internal communications is often a contributor to poor employee engagement. Conversely, when companies consistently dialogue (not monologue) with employees, and convey their value and purpose to the mission and success of their organizations, employees will feel more invested, passionate, and devoted to their work.
Leading employees to help drive innovation and gain competitive advantage
Empower front-line employees with the tools and latitude to solve customer issues on one call. Use their insights from customer interactions to help improve solutions for current problems, forecast potential problems, and view them as opportunities for growth. Seek the input of your age- and culture-diverse workforces for the varied perspectives you need to best serve your customers.
Creating your competitive advantage
ROI is undeniable for both employee experience and customer experience initiatives. Just because leadership says employees understand the company mission does not mean the staff agrees. Likewise, just because the company says that clients love working with them does not mean the customers agree. A first step to a successful EX or CX initiative is an honest and thorough assessment of the organization.
To borrow from one last sports motivational speech, in Coach Carter (and a Marianne Williamson quote), a basketball player states that “our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure,” and we should not be content to play small or maintain the status quo.
— Denise Graziano
Image credit: Shutterstock