In a recent blog post, I hypothesized that customer experience and workforce experience are two sides of the same coin. For me, it was captured perfectly during a recent research interview with Blair McHaney, Gold’s Gym franchise owner and user of Medallia customer experience management tools. He said, “Your customer experience will be less than or equal to your employee experience.”

So, I’m working with Sam Stern, an analyst on our Customer Experience research team, to examine how companies can better align employee behaviors with desired customer experience outcomes. Sam is looking at the types of rewards and recognition that fundamentally shift corporate culture towards customer-centricity. It  builds on Paul Hagen’s culture research, How to Build a Customer-Centric Culture and Nine Ways to Reward Employees to Reinforce Customer-Centric Behaviors. Paul highlighted a number of great examples of how companies reinforce customer-centric culture through employee incentives and perks. I’m looking at the technology underpinnings of customer experience management and how these technology solutions can be applied to the workforce.  

In my most recent report, The Workforce Experience Ecosystem, I outlined the four major elements of the workforce experience technology portfolio: (1) workplace transformation solutions that reshape the office experience, providing flexibility for employees and optimized occupancy and usage for their employers; (2) engagement tools that harness employee passion and energy and identify engaged workers to senior leadership; (3) productivity tools that connect people to each other and the information they need to get work done better and faster; and (4) customer impact tools that give all employees a stake in the quality of a customer experience and business outcomes.

The research that I’m working on with Sam focuses on (4) — customer impact tools. It’s clear that engaged employees help drive better customer experiences. In TJ Keitt’s great Benchmarking Technology’s Effect On Employee Engagement report, he shared data showing that of the 30% of information workers who are engaged, 81% say that external customer satisfaction is important to their job, 43% are goaled on internal customer satisfaction, and 66% spend at least an hour a day working directly with customers or clients. As a result:

  • Customer Experience Management (CEM) vendors are applying their solutions to employee engagement. In the CX world, CEM tools gather feedback from customers across all channels and touchpoints, analyze the data for patterns or issues that need to be addressed and push out reports to drive action. Once separate technology markets — satisfaction and loyalty solutions, market insights platforms, and self-service survey tool providers — they have now converged and are usually deployed as a single solution. At work, HR is the central feedback-gathering engine for employees. They run surveys, conduct interviews, and track employee performance, but like the early days of CX, it’s a fragmented and incomplete picture of the employee experience. Vendors like Medallia, Empathica, and Confirmit are using their toolset to tune into a much wider range of employee feedback and ideas to analyze that data for actionable insights. They will increasingly compete with more established HR workforce analytics solutions like Kenexa (acquired by IBM in 2012) and SuccessFactors (acquired by SAP in 2011)
  • CX techniques and methodologies are being applied to workforce experience. Three key areas of CX best practice that apply to the workforce are the importance of a design process, the value of “Voice Of” programs, and the need to develop good metrics that send the right message. Great customer experiences are actively designed using a structured and iterative process. The same is true of workforce experience, and recently TJ published research on employee-centric design, using customer experience techniques to guide workforce experience design. My colleague Adele Sage published excellent research showcasing the programs of Forrester’s 2012 Voice of the Customer Awards. She tells me that smart companies already have or are developing official Voice of the Employee programs. Good metrics are a critical communication tool to drive the right behaviors. Companies like Royal Bank of Canada and Progressive Insurance combine customer loyalty, satisfaction, and retention metrics to tell their customer impact stories to employees and often connect these metrics to annual goals for managers.

There’s a lot of research to come in this area, and Sam and I welcome any input you have. If you have a great story to tell about driving employee engagement through customer experience impact, please drop us a line. We’d love to hear about it! Drop me an email at