Business Leadership Today

How Customer Experience Is Related to Employee Experience


Matt Tenney, Author of Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process

Customer experience and employee experience are terms you may be hearing more about these days, but did you know the two are inextricably linked?

In order to provide an exceptional customer service experience, leaders are learning that providing an exceptional employee experience should be a part of the strategy.

Customer experience and employee experience are related because employees who feel empowered, valued, and motivated at work are more likely to deliver a positive customer experience. Organizations that provide a positive employee experience have employees who are more committed to delivering excellent service.

This article will explore the link between customer experience and employee experience.

What Is Customer Experience?

Customer experience (CX) encompasses everything an organization does to put customers first, provide an exceptional experience, add value, meet their needs, and help them to grow. The quality of the customer experience informs the customer’s opinion on how a company interacts with them and whether or not those interactions are positive.

The customer experience includes all the interactions a customer has with the company, from their very first introduction to the brand or sales cycle to their customer support experiences. 

The customer experience is just as important, if not more so, than the goods or services a company provides to its customers because it plays a role in customer satisfaction and customer retention. To turn first-time customers into repeat buyers and establish loyalty with them, the first interaction they have with a company should be a positive experience.

What Is Employee Experience?

Gallup defines employee experience  as “the journey an employee takes with your organization.” This journey includes all the interactions that happen during the employee lifecycle, as well as the experiences that involve an employee’s role, work environment, workplace culture, leaders, and how their leaders demonstrate a commitment to their growth, success, and well-being.

Employee experience encompasses how an employee feels during all their interactions with their employer throughout their professional relationship with them. 

This includes (but is not limited to) the employee’s first encounter with the employer (through familiarity with the employer’s reputation and the experience of applying for the job), the first time the employee meets the employer, the employee’s experience of their work environment and encounters with co-workers, the workplace culture, the exit interview process, and any interactions the employee has with the employer after the employee leaves the organization. 

A positive employee experience results in better engagement, retention, performance, and long-term profitability. Creating a positive employee experience is only possible if employees are led in positive ways by good leaders and everyone in the organization is invested in the process of employee experience management. 

The Link Between Employee Experience and Customer Experience

In addition to better engagement, retention, performance, and long-term profitability, employee experience is also strongly linked to customer experience. According to a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey, 55% of executives surveyed said they believe it is just not possible to provide a great customer experience without providing a great employee experience.

Employees who view their employee experience positively are much more likely to provide a positive customer experience. In fact, the link between the two is so strong, many are declaring employee experience is the new customer experience

The evidence supports this. Organizations that lead in customer experience have employees who are 60% more engaged, and investing in employee experience can generate a high ROI for the organization. 

When an organization provides a positive employee experience, they see improvements in customer satisfaction, greater innovation, and generate 25% higher profits than organizations that do not provide a positive employee experience.

Just as a positive customer experience is crucial for building loyalty and driving revenue, a positive employee experience boosts loyalty and performance. It also helps organizations attract top talent. Customers will see the positive effects of an excellent employee experience in the service your employees provide. 

How To Ensure Both Experiences Are Positive

To create a great customer experience, a customer’s interactions with a company’s employees must be positive. Customers need to feel heard and valued if we want them to keep coming back. We need to get feedback from customers to understand how we can better serve them. We need to foster authentic connections with them to build trust with them.

If we expect our team members to provide a great customer service experience—an experience in which customers feel heard and valued—we need to make sure we hear and value them. We need their feedback so that we can learn how to improve and better serve them. We need to build authentic connections with them to build trust. 

A leader’s ability to build authentic relationships with their employees, and encourage team members to do the same, is the key to providing a great employee experience and helps maintain a harmonious, respectful work environment in which employees can perform well and serve customers well.

Leadership is one of the most critical factors for business success, and having a good leader who can build rapport with team members, inspire them to do great work, and keep them motivated ensures both the employee and customer experiences are positive.

Leaders can support a positive employee experience by providing job clarity, opportunities for professional development, autonomy, an inclusive work environment, regular recognition of contributions, healthy feedback, a good work/life balance, and trust-based working relationships. 

The most important goal in fostering a positive employee experience is fostering an environment where employees feel valued and that the work they do matters. Leaders can help their team members see the impact of their work and how their roles are integral to achieving that impact by tying the work they do to a greater purpose, a clearly-defined vision that helps them see a deeper meaning in their work. 

When our teams can connect their daily activities to positive impacts for customers, we are making their work more meaningful and making the customer experience more meaningful. 

Purpose is necessary to achieve the long-term results we want in business. It is short-sighted to focus on effects without bringing cause into the mix when it comes to inspiring purpose in employees and creating an experience that is more than the sum of our team members’ output. 

I recently had a conversation with Zach Mercurio, author of The Invisible Leader: Transform Your Life, Work, and Organization the Power of Authentic Purpose, about why making team members feel like they matter is essential if you want your organization to do great work, especially in the post-pandemic world of work where many workers are still experiencing burnout and the other negative effects of stressful work environments and customer demand is high.

“Imagine today that you believe your life is insignificant. It’s very unlikely that you would do much of anything. Yet, in organizations, a majority of workers say they feel forgotten or invisible. This experience of anti-mattering is extremely prevalent in eroding people’s energy and effort.”

YouTube video

In the post-pandemic world, we need to find ways to rebuild our team members’ trust, boost their energy, and increase their efforts. Doing so is essential to providing the kind of customer experience that keeps customers satisfied and loyal. The most effective way for leaders to achieve this is by ensuring they are providing all employees with a positive employee experience.

Matt Tenney has been working to help organizations develop leaders who improve employee engagement and performance since 2012. He is the author of three leadership books, including the groundbreaking, highly acclaimed book Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process.

Matt’s ideas have been featured in major media outlets and his clients include numerous national associations and Fortune 500 companies.

He is often invited to deliver keynote speeches at conferences and leadership meetings, and is known for delivering valuable, actionable insights in a way that is memorable and deeply inspiring.

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