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A Top Priority for CIOs in 2020 Is Employee Experience. Here’s Why

Posted by on June 30, 2020

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If you are a CIO, then customer experience should be at the top of your priority list.

According to a report from CIO Magazine, customer service has always been at the forefront of successful companies. But new research is showing that true digital transformation is much more about “employee experience” and internal effectiveness than anything else. For example, companies with engaged employees outperform competitors by 147 percent, and companies that excel at customer service have 1.5 more engaged employees.

How? By leveraging technology to improve employee daily work experiences.

Prioritizing employee experience is a recent shift in the world of enterprise tech, and was catalyzed significantly by COVID-19. Overnight, companies all over the world saw the flaws or inefficiencies in their own internal processes—many of which had never needed to rely on technology to facilitate remote efficiencies before. But before digging deeper into how technology can improve employee engagement, it’s important to understand what “employee experience” even means in the first place.

Customer Experience (CX) vs Employee Experience (EX)

So much of business hyper focuses on the experience of the customer. “The customer is always right.”

Employee experience, on the other hand, is the sum total of conscious events, interactions, feelings, best practices, expertise, and so on, that shape how an employee not only processes their work environment and responsibilities, but how successful that employee can and will be at a given task. 

EX then is what ultimately drives CX.

Starbucks is a great EX and CX example. Here’s why.

If you want a cup of coffee, you have three potential options:

  1. Brew your own: Costs maybe $0.25 to $0.50. You buy the coffee maker, the beans or pods, and you do the work.

  2. Coffee-as-a-service: Stop by your local McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts and for about $2.00, a hot steaming cup of joe is all yours in a couple of minutes.

  3. The Starbucks experience: When you choose $5-Bucks (better known as Starbucks), you’re willing to pay more than 10X the homebrew option and 2.5X the CaaS option. But why? Are you paying for the fantastic coffee? Not really. You are largely paying for an experience. The ambiance, convenience, mobile app and ordering, a barista who knows your name, free high-speed Wi-Fi, hip setting, drive-thrus, locations, and the list goes on. Every bit of the experience has been planned out and is tracked in real-time. They know their customers. 

Understanding these customer needs is what made Starbucks successful on the customer experience side of the business.

But the employee experience they provide is what makes it so easy to come back to Starbucks over and over again.

Employee engagement measures a moment in time when an employee is being asked to do something (by circumstance, by a customer, by their manager, etc.) and reveals whether or not that employee is “engaged.” In this sense, it is not a very holistic measurement of the entire employee experience—from job interview, to first day of work, all the way through to the moment they leave the company however many months or years later.

And what impacts the daily work experience of an employee aren’t “perks” like free drinks, more days off, or a Ping-Pong table in the back room. 

It’s technology. It’s training. It’s being given an “experience” that leads to more individual success—which in turn leads to the company’s success. 

  • It’s being given a work laptop that is already configured for an employee’s particular role, connected to the internet, with access to the right applications.

  • It’s being onboarded in a way that makes you feel welcomed into the organization, and not “on an island.”

  • It’s being given the proper credentials to access files you need in order to do your job, or being provided with the resources in order to get up to speed quickly and effectively.

This is what Starbucks and others like Uber and Netflix did that was so genius.

The “employee experience” of working at many of these companies is very well thought out. At Starbucks for example, when a customer drops their drink on the floor, employees are trained to know that one person should go and clean the mess up right away, while another employee has that customer’s drink re-made and in-hand immediately. The Uber CX and EX is driven largely by technology, with fit-for-purpose apps for both employees and customers that are simple to use and powerful, and are foundational to their success.

On the surface, these might look like “customer experiences,” and they are. But they’re also employee experiences, which require detailed and scalable internal processes and interactions for each and every employee. 

And the only way you can scale this experience in the enterprise is with technology.

Now, as VP of Product Marketing at Cherwell, I can tell you that companies tend to under-invest in employee experience. While they may spare no expense on the CX side, they just don’t have the people, process, or technology in place to excel at EX. In fact, according to a study by Lawless Research, 43 percent of information workers “spend at least half of their workday on manual processes.” If you’ve ever been on a call with a customer service representative and they’ve said, “Sorry, my system is running very slow right now,” then you know the company you’re talking to isn’t investing very much in their own processes and the experiences of their employees.

Which can lead to employee retention problems, internal inefficiencies, and eventually bleed over into the interactions you have with your customers.

Interested in exploring this topic further? Watch a webinar on enterprise tech and employee experience.

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