The role of HR in customer experience

The role of HR in customer experience
Sage People

Get your customer experience right, and your revenue can increase between 10-12% – whilst at the same time creating happier customers who enjoy using your products or services.

It sounds simple, right? Just look at brands like Apple or Emirates that make things easier for their customers, or provide great customer service. Customers return to them again and again, often becoming brand advocates. And if customers don’t receive great experiences, then others are quick to hear about it. Companies know that in today’s on-demand, mobile and digital age, it’s important to get this right.

We think that the secret to great customer experience could lie with employee engagement. Equally, HR and people teams can learn a lot from customer experience teams. Here’s why.

Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers
Firstly, put simply, happy employees make happy customers. If a company’s employees are engaged and motivated, then this is going to be reflected in the customer service that they deliver.

Ultimately, it is people who underpin the long-term customer relationship, not the CRM software or the customer management processes put in place.

But it also goes even further than that.

Know your people as well as you know your customers
Today, companies have a wealth of information about their customers at their fingertips – from their buying habits, to their style preferences and lifestyle choices.

Companies know what type of products different consumers prefer, how they like to engage with the brand, and when they may be most likely to buy from them. As a result, customers increasingly receive a seamless buying journey and experience.

What if companies had the same level of insight about their employees?

Taken logically, it seems ludicrous that companies can have all this information about their consumers, but not their employees – what about how their staff prefer to work? Or, how they like to engage with their employer? Or, when they may be most likely to be a flight risk?

Imagine the impact on the company if an organization tapped into this using people analytics and People Science, and knew their employees as well as their consumers. Companies could revolutionize the way that they work, and design great workforce experiences that enable their employees to do their best work – ultimately improving performance, productivity and engagement.

In this way, HR and people teams can learn a lot from customer experience teams and create a more engaged and productive workforce – that will too, in turn, have a positive impact on customer experience.

Linking customer feedback and employee engagement
In the same way that HR and people teams can build better workforce experiences by knowing their people as well as they know their consumers, customer experience teams can learn a lot from HR and people teams.

This sort of collaboration is what results in a successful customer experience and ultimately a successful brand. It is no wonder then that The Dorchester Hotel was awarded Best UK Luxury Hotel Brand at the British Travel Awards in 2016 as well as the Distinction in Talent Management at the HR Distinction Awards in the same year.

In late 2012 Total Fitness, a UK chain of gyms, was fighting for survival. Employees were laid off and morale was at an all-time low. However, the new Chairman decided that employee engagement and customer experience needed to be improved in tandem – and not treated as separate silos; so the company introduced the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a way of tracking loyalty among gym goers, alongside initiatives that encouraged staff feedback and input.

Linking employee and customer satisfaction proved successful and in two years, Total Fitness’ NPS score of minus 31 at the outset – the worst in the industry – rose to plus four, which is nine points above the sector average. This correlated with a 14% growth in membership over the same two-year period.

It seems outrageous then that just 36% of companies wholly or partially share data between their customer experience and employee engagement programmes, according to studies, with 38% having no plans to connect the two disciplines.

This is despite research showing that 83% of companies that linked feedback saw benefits in an improved customer experience, while 75% felt it led to more motivated and engaged employees. Nearly six in ten organisations also said it allowed them to gain insight into activities that link directly to business objectives, and it allowed over half to link positive customer experiences to engaged employees.

Sharing customer experience and employee engagement data could open a world of opportunity for customer experience teams.

Shared skills in marketing and HR teams
The case for the relationship between employee experience and customer experience also paves the way for a closer relationship between HR and marketing.

As companies increasingly wise up to the power of employer branding and People Marketing, HR and marketing professionals are increasingly sharing common skillsets.

Communication is key in both worlds
To engage employees, HR and people teams are adapting their ways of communicating with the workforce, and borrowing techniques from their marketing counterparts. This includes using social channels, providing mobile experiences, and webcasts to generate interest and awareness.

Some staff want notifications about company updates, whilst others prefer all-company meetings. HR and people teams are tailoring their approaches accordingly.

As a result, we’ll see more and more Chief People Officers from marketing backgrounds over the coming years.

Align the employee experience with the customer experience
Driven by technology and the increase of online business transactions, companies have invested heavily in digital experiences to enhance the customer journey through apps, timed delivery, instant notifications and personalised emails.

Now, like customers, employees expect a better employee journey too. If they can book their holiday online at a touch of a button at a time that works for them, then why too can’t they book their leave for that holiday in the workplace?

As a result, HR and people teams are increasingly mirroring customer journeys in employee experiences to increase engagement.

For example, online cloud based HR and people apps make it easier to connect with employees and vice versa allowing them instant access to company news, online holiday booking forms, easily accessible company policies and a portal to communicate with HR confidentially.

Even more importantly, self-service access empowers your employees by enabling them to view information and manage key tasks whenever they want, whilst freeing up time for the HR and people teams, boosting productivity across the business.

The future of customer experience and HR
When it comes down to it, many businesses say it’s their people that differentiates their brand. This is true, and this is why an engaged workforce can be directly linked to a positive customer experience.

Should customer experience be owned by HR? Should HR and people be owned by customer experience?

With 48% of companies feeling that siloed behaviour and ways of working presented the great barriersto delivering a good customer experience, the future certainly holds a closer working relationship between the two, if companies want boost employee engagement and customer feedback – and, as a result, ultimately their revenue too.


Want to find out more about using marketing approaches to engage your people? Download our whitepaper on People Marketing today.

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