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Customer Experience

Employee engagement and customer experience: a perfect match

By Nienke Kuijper on August, 13 2020

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Nienke Kuijper

In the past decade, and especially in the past few months, digitalization has shifted from a novelty to the new norm. But technology isn’t the only thing that has changed: we have changed too. This poses a new challenge for organizations who face the battle for the customer: how do you win over this changed human? At TOPdesk SEE Online 2020, customer centricity expert Nancy Rademaker shared her insights and explained why employee engagement and customer experience go hand in hand with digital transformation.


We’ve all experienced disruption in our industries. But the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the first or only disruption; it’s the fourth. In the past decades, we’ve already experienced disruption caused by new technologies, new competition, and higher customer expectations. Digital transformation has been lurking around the corner for years, and now it’s here.

A common misconception

Traditionally, the focus of digital transformation has always been on data and technology. But this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in the process of digital transformation. According to Nancy Rademaker, digital transformation is not just a digitalization of your business. First and foremost, digital transformation is a human and cultural transformation.

Meet the changed human

When you approach your digital transformation as a human and cultural transformation, you need to know more about the human factor. Nancy identifies five characteristics of changed humans. They are:

  1. Informed: the amount of information available to us is enormous. We can compare products and services, check research studies, read articles, and so much more.
  2. Individualistic: we are more focused on our personal goals.
  3. Impatient: the goldfish has officially won. We now have an attention span of 7.6 seconds; a goldfish has an attention span of 8 seconds.
  4. Intuitive: 90% of our decisions are based on emotions.
  5. Influenced: we spend an enormous amount of time on social media, mirroring our behaviour to that of our peers and role models..

What does this mean for employee engagement and customer experience?

Whatever product you sell or service you provide, your organization needs to adapt its strategy to these five characteristics to keep up with its changing customer. A customer who is more

  1. informed requires more transparency.
  2. individualistic requires a higher level of personalization.
  3. impatient requires convenience and speed.
  4. intuitive requires you to evoke an emotional reaction in them.
  5. influenced requires Instagrammable moments.

This doesn’t just hold true for dealing with customers. Your employees are changed humans too. And if you truly want to differentiate your business on customer experience, start by focusing on your employee experience.

Why? To quote Nancy: “Having dissatisfied employees doesn’t necessarily mean you also have unhappy customers. But happy employees always lead to happy customers.”

What employee experience is really about

According to Nancy, employee experience is not about employer branding or the perks and benefits of your job. It’s about interaction: connecting with your employees on a physical, emotional, and aspirational level. It's about every single experience your employees have that’s related to your organization. But how do you design an employee experience? There are three areas in which you can improve:

1. Workplace and organization

Both the physical workplace and the structure of the organization should enable collaboration. The impatient human – or colleague – requires speed and efficiency. Tip: move away from traditional hierarchies and siloed teams and set up responsive networks instead so information can travel fast.

2. Tools and technology

Many organizations have a 360-degree view of their customers. Now is the time to do the same for your employees. Technology can take the employee experience to the next level. How? By making interactions more personalized, convenient, and even more in sync with your employees’ emotions.

For example:

  • Use algorithms to predict behaviour. Is a specific day or week often busier than others? Make sure to increase your IT support’s capacity so response times stay low.
  • Have smart machines tell you when they need maintenance to prevent surprises.
  • Introduce automated routing on your website/intranet. Whenever your employee gets stuck on a certain page when trying to find the answer to a question, you can make sure they’re immediately connected to the right department when picking up the phone.
  • Predict your employees’ emotions and adjust the tone of voice in your communications accordingly.

3. Leadership and communication

Whatever your management style, the current ‘changed employee’ thrives on empathetic leadership. This doesn’t mean that you only sympathize with your employees when they’re struggling. Empathetic leadership is built on transparency (your employees know the goals), empowerment (you trust them to take ownership), and space (your employees get enough space, both physical space and head space).

What’s your focus?

When discussing the battle for the customer, it might seem like you need to choose: should you focus on your customers or your employees? According to Nancy, success lies in the marriage of the two: good CEX – customer experience and employee experience. Don’t choose: simply use the best of both and focus on employee engagement and customer experience at the same time.

Could your service organization use some advice from experts like Nancy? The 2020 edition of TOPdesk SEE has passed, but we’re organizing a live event in 2021. Find out more on see.topdesk.com and make sure to sign up for the TOPdesk SEE Newsletter to get a nice discount on your tickets.

Discover TOPdesk SEE 2021

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