Who came first...the employee or the customer?

I was in a meeting yesterday and as a team we were talking about the importance of linking customer and employee insight and not to view them only in silos as many businesses do.

Ask yourself - when was the last time your people team and customer team got together to discuss trends in both experience of colleagues and customers and how they could support each others goals?  Maybe you will be lucky and have an answer but some of you will struggle.

Well, that made me think about the age old chicken and egg analogy.  What came first - Employee Engagement or Customer Experience?

You will find a load of theories out there.  Many industry leaders think as I do but in business, particularly big business, these two vital groups leaders rarely discuss their priorities and whether they align with each other.

You could view it like this:

Engaged employees directly influence customer experience

You have witnessed this I am sure.  A happy employee makes your experience as a customer infinitely better.  Whether its a face to face interaction or a conversation by phone, you can just tell whether the colleague is happy and interested in you and your query.  

A colleague who feels that they are an active part of your business, given recognition for the work they do and offered opportunities to grow and succeed will deliver a very different experience to your customer, this is human nature, we all love to be told we are doing a great job and to feel supported.

A good customer experience encourages loyalty

Once you have had a good experience somewhere it is likely that you will visit that business more often and possibly spend more.  You are also more likely to refer that business.  Leading to more customers for them.  This is not a given though - a good experience alone will not keep customers indefinitely.

Great businesses and great leaders will link this delivery of customer experience back to their core purpose.  How does this link to the mission and goals of the team and how do the team support delivery of that every day.


This shows me that neither can be picked as coming first but that there is a loop that links the two together.  One without the other simply doesn't work. 

Its important to say that I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here, just opinions. What I do believe is that businesses have very real opportunities to create strategies that clearly link the colleague and customer experience, to view them as one source of complementary information.  And that by getting one right, you will positively impact the other. Whichever way around you choose to start.

As a business you should be making decisions for your business based on the people experiences on the front line, giving your strategy a human touch that many other businesses will not have considered yet!


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