Employee experienceI ran across this great quote as I was reading the Don’t Do Dumb Things To Customers blog last week, and it was so powerful that I’ve been pondering it all week.

“The customer experience never exceeds the employee experience.”

I’ve been searching for examples which would disprove this statement, but haven’t found one yet.  In all cases I can think of, a great customer experience is ONLY found when employees also are treated right.

In most businesses, of course, this is a broad brush statement.  Employees are experience a different kind of relationship with the company than customers might; they’re receiving a different kind of value.

Let’s not take this to the extreme, though, and think of it as a simplistic formula for success:

  1. We need more revenue, and therefore more customers.
  2. Happy customers give us more money, come back more often, and recommend us to their friends.
  3. If I bribe my employees enough, then, we’ll have more happy customers.

There’s a huge, huge gap between steps 2 and 3.  We were doing fine up until that point, but then forgot all the pitfalls which could arise:

  • Employees aren’t the ONLY thing which create a great customer experience.
  • Bribing employees (paying them a lot) is only a small part of the “employee experience”.
  • Since they’re human, employees resist being manipulated that way and this could well backfire.

This is why I like the phrase “employee experience” more than focusing on pay, benefits, and job descriptions.  Yes, it’s amorphous.  But since we’re dealing with people here, it’s going to be messy.

Assuming that you’re giving your folks at least what they perceive to be a fair and just wage and benefits package, then other factors start taking over.  The first is the relationship with one’s direct supervisor: it needs to be friendly, supportive, just, and empathetic.

As the business owner, this might drive you nuts.  You don’t have that kind of control over these squishy elements of each supervisor’s behavior, and you don’t have time to do that kind of micro-management.

Well, the same principles apply.  There’s an “employee experience” for every manager and supervisor as well, which needs to be just as carefully designed.  All the way up to the top, where indeed the buck DOES stop with you.

The supervisor relationship is just one element of the employee experience, of course.  The most important one.  But you can think of examples where people get along with their boss just fine, but crappy support systems drive everyone nuts.  It’s your job to make sure that there’s no more overhead BS than necessary, and to explain why the needed overhead is not a bad thing.  Your company is on the line if people aren’t being paid on time or the payroll deductions give people unpleasant surprises.

Yes, this is a lot of really annoying grunge work.  But the reason you’re making sure it gets fixed is because without satisfied employees, you’ll never have satisfied customers.  And your business will never get to where you want it to be.