“Fasten Your Seat Belts. We’re Experiencing Some DEX Turbulence.”

As I write this, I’m halfway over the Atlantic on my way back from visiting clients in Barcelona, Spain, where I’ve spent the last two days sharing my research on digital employee experience (DEX).

The DEX market continues to be red-hot, with nearly one-third of decision-makers indicating that they’ll be investing in end-user experience management (EUEM) over the next 12 months. But with a potential recession on the way, customers and vendors are increasingly asking me how to transform DEX from a nice-to-have to a must-have. The answer lies in connecting DEX to customer outcomes.

DEX: A Hidden Driver Of Customer Obsession?

For years, Forrester’s data has shown a strong link between employee engagement and customer outcomes. As our Employee Experience Index shows, engaged employees are more likely to:

  • Agree that their company is customer-obsessed.
  • Recommend their company’s products and services to potential customers.

As I write this post, I’ve just caught the news of the recent Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) computer outage that impacted the airline industry this morning in the United States. NOTAM is an essential communication system that notifies key airline personnel of impactful events, such as hazards, procedural updates, facility changes, and more. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) primarily uses the system to notify personnel quickly when other forms of communication aren’t available. Without NOTAM, planes can’t take off. While the system is now back online, the outage resulted in thousands of delays and cancellations that left customers stranded for the second time in as little as a few weeks. Remember Southwest?

Over the holiday season, issues with legacy infrastructure caused Southwest Airlines to cancel approximately 16,000 flights. Commenting on the root cause of the cancellations, Captain Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said, “It’s phones, it’s computers, it’s processing power, it’s the programs used to connect us to airplanes — that’s where the problem lies, and it’s systemic throughout the whole airline.” In other words, the cancellations were the result of an outdated digital employee experience.

Poor DEX = Poor Customer Experience And Negative Business Results

While challenges such as technical debt and cybersecurity underscore both NOTAM and Southwest, poor digital employee experience clearly played some role. For the FAA, it was literally a computer outage, something an EUEM tool would have visibility over. In the case of Southwest Airlines, it was outdated employee scheduling tools and devices. Ultimately, poor performance and instability of the underlying computing environment caused outages and delays that negatively impacted customer experience. The impact on Southwest’s business was high:

  • An immediate 7% stock-price decline during the outage
  • A $400–425 million revenue hit in Q4, according to the company

Could DEX Monitoring Have Prevented It All? Not Likely … But It Would Have Helped

In both cases, there are larger issues of technical debt at play that will take time to unravel and modernize. Still, experience monitoring tools could have reduced the risk of an outage by ensuring that one area of dependence — the endpoints running these systems — didn’t become a weakness. With this use case in mind, it’s likely we’ll start to see DEX playing in use cases such as shared devices and kiosks to:

  • Monitor the health of these endpoints.
  • Proactively improve the experience before issues arise.
  • Quickly remediate events faster when they do happen.
  • Most importantly, limit impact on customers.

The link between customer obsession and digital employee experience is increasingly clear. If your organization is truly customer-obsessed, it must set a strong DEX foundation. If you want to learn more about how enterprises are improving DEX in their organizations, schedule an inquiry with me at inquiry@forrester.com.