How many companies listen to the voice of the employee? Whilst a number of brands are tuned into customer feedback - and quite rightly so - an often-overlooked aspect of a customer experience strategy is that of the employee. It is frequently pointed out that contented employees are imperative for successful customer experience management, and there is a lot of truth in this; happier employees tend to be more motivated and focused, and possess a greater determination for the company to succeed. Keeping them engaged, therefore, should be a top priority for any organisation that is serious about its future success.

 

Creating Empathy

Engagement can begin with helping the employee to get inside the head of the customer, and the pillar of Empathy is a key one here. It is important for employees to not only put themselves in the other person's shoes, and to provide an emotional response, but also to provide the right emotional response, tailoring the interaction accordingly. As such, a worker that is trained to adopt this mindset will inevitably deliver a greater customer experience, as their energy will be focused on the needs of the individual.

This is a skill that has certainly been mastered in the United States. One particular brand - the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) - is the most successful CX organisation in America, topping the rankings with a world-leading CEE score of 8.69. It specialises in providing financial services to customers who have served, or actively serve, in the US military.

"Customer experience is our main priority; the service we provide to our members is the foundation USAA was built on", the brand says. "We are focused on knowing our members and fully understanding their individual needs, so we can effectively provide appropriate and customised solutions to protect and enhance their financial security... Our employees are personally committed to delivering excellent service and great guidance. That exceptional service builds loyalty and trust over the long term".

And it takes this responsibility to its service seriously, often recruiting people who grew up in military families, if they did not serve themselves. The thinking behind this strategy is that it will help employees to more easily engage with the people they are dealing with, as they will be able to relate to their various situations. The brand also goes as far as issuing its employees with authentic-looking 'deployment' letters, and giving them 'meals ready to eat', all with a view to helping the worker get inside the customers' heads.

 

Reaping the rewards

It's a customer experience strategy that has certainly paid dividends for the USAA. As well as having an Empathy score that is 22 per cent ahead of the US study average, the brand has been afforded a large amount of positive feedback. "USAA is always there when needed and treat me like a customer, not a number", commented one individual, whilst another added that, "they are always respectful and go out of their way to help" whilst always doing "what they say they will". A third individual said: "[I] was very pleased with the help I received from the customer service rep I dealt with when I called to file my claim. They were very helpful and efficient... I could really tell that they wanted to give me as much help as possible".

So where should an organisation that is hoping to improve its employee engagement begin? The first step is for workers to start listening. This is where organisations such as Lush, the cosmetics retailer, succeed. Rather than trying to force a product or service onto an individual, they first listen to what the person's practical or emotional needs are, and take the interaction from there. This is also true for the USAA. They refer to this practice as 'customer surround sound', and it is central to the organisation's company culture. It's an approach that has been proven to work, and one that should be the cornerstone of any dedicated customer experience strategy.