Aligning brand, employee and customer experience is the key to stronger business performance, relative to companies that keep Bx, Ex and Cx siloed.
As a result, organizations should prioritize dismantling the boundaries between brand, employee and customer experience to take advantage of the inherent interconnectedness of all three.
Understanding how customers experience your brand by way of its employees, and how to link the strategies that govern all three, is key to driving increased brand relationship, employee engagement and customer retention.
Forrester principal analysts Dipanjan Chatterjee, Pete Jacques and David Brodeur-Johnson joined Liquid Agency’s chief strategy officer, Dennis Hahn, in a recent webinar co-hosted with Qualtrics chief product officer of research Michel Feaster: ”The best brands come in threes.” In the webinar, the experts discussed just how important it is to align Bx, Ex and Cx. Doing so accounts for 27% of the variance between stronger- and weaker-performing companies. However, 78% of businesses are not currently prioritizing the alignment.
In the Q&A below, the experts dig deeper into some of the dynamics at play.
When an organization’s brand, employee and customer experiences are aligned, what are the expected business benefits?
In our analysis of the self-reported performance of 156 companies along the dimensions of growth, profit, brand equity and employee empowerment, we found that 27% of the variance between those with strong performance and those with weak performance can be attributed to how well these companies have aligned their brand, customer and employee experience. What this means is that while by themselves, a strong Bx, Ex and Cx can influence business benefits, there is an additional and significant lift from their alignment.
What are some concrete examples of translating Bx, Ex and Cx strategies into the day-to-day, moment-to-moment interactions with brands that shape employee and customer experiences?
The best brands that align and deliver harmonized experiences have a holistic view of the enterprises and how it serves its customers. This holistic view is achieved through a robust measurement program that captures customer and employee assessments of the brand (i.e., are you delivering on the brand promise and value proposition), perceptions of their experiences, including emotional engagement, and a method for segmenting to compare those whose experiences resonate with the brand promise with those whose experiences do not resonate. While the exact nature of the implementation will vary by category, every touchpoint and those that are responsible for them—salespeople, cashiers, store personnel, user interface designers and others—must understand the purpose of the brand and how to best translate it into Cx. That’s the convergence of the brand, employee and customer experience being lived in the customer’s reality.
In what ways can leaders combat feeling overwhelmed by the interconnected, expansive nature of aligning their company’s Bx, Ex and Cx?
Leaders must ensure that they themselves, as well as their teams, have a cross-functional mentality tethered to customer obsession, not functional dominion. The right mindset, collaborative processes and reward mechanism—or at least the beginnings of these since few companies are mature in this respect—is a must. Then, a thorough analysis is required of the key experiences and how to deliberately plan for convergence around the experiences. A good technique is to focus on experiences that matter most in that they have the most emotional heft in influencing behavior. These tend to be those that are anticipatory, are geared toward high points and low points and manage the end points of each experience. This map of prioritized experiences will help navigate to a clear agenda for the alignment of brand, employee and customer experience.
Leaders can drive toward this cross-functional mentality by sharing the linkages between these different components of experience. The fruit of the rigorous analysis described above is a set of measures that describe what is actually happening during an experience (interaction metrics), how the consumer or employee perceives that experience (perception metrics) and the impact of those perceptions (outcome metrics). Leaders can share those linkages (through data visualization and graphical techniques) to help partners across the organization understand how their piece impacts the larger picture.
What can be learned from customer experience measurement to inform employee experience and vice versa?
Much can be learned, but it requires having more context than just the raw Cx measurement data. The data can tell you that you have a problem but seldom much more than that. For example, when Starbucks rolled out its mobile ordering capabilities in several of their stores, they initially started seeing lower customer satisfaction scores while also seeing higher employee turnover in those same stores. The Cx data was only one symptom of the problem, and the employee turnover data was another. They used those two metrics to understand that they had a significant problem, but still didn’t have enough information to determine what it was. They had to send people to the stores to observe what was actually happening on the ground to get a handle on it. They learned that they had effectively broken their finely tuned human/machine workflow in the stores by introducing the mobile ordering aspect, and fixing it required thoughtful re-engineering of the workflow, changes in staffing and equipment placement, etc. All of this was outside the control of the store employees to fix on their own. Incorporating interaction metrics, which provide objective data on touchpoints (e.g., number of web pages visited, average hold time), can provide some additional insight to help narrow down where a problem exists, but often still requires more depth to get to root causes, as the Starbucks example illustrates.
How might Bx, Ex and Cx metrics be better integrated into strategic business goals and priorities at the corporate level? Which key organizational players are needed to drive this kind of integration?
I haven’t met an executive yet who wants less insight into how their business is operating. More reliable insights are what they want. What they don’t want is either misleading or erroneous/irrelevant information. So, integrating Bx/Ex/Cx metrics into decision making and prioritization starts with proven methodologies and reliable sources that will convince experienced executives that the insights are worth paying attention to. For example, Cx metrics such as the CX Index™ score, Ex metrics such as engagement and Bx data such as how customers and employers perceive the organization can be powerful when thoughtfully combined to highlight multiple facets of a situation. For example, let’s say that your organization’s Cx scores have started trending downward along with employee engagement and brand perception. By asking additional questions in each area and doing the data science work to figure out how the various factors relate to each other, you can gain more insight into what’s going on. You can use the analysis to help other executives understand it as well and get them signed on to help solve it. Integration is achieved, then, by demonstrating the linkage (through correlations, regression and, in some cases, causal analyses) between these different metrics and stated business goals.
In case you missed the webinar, watch the recording here.