Customer-to-Employee Recognition: A Revolutionary Approach to Engagement

By Kristina Glynn

Customer centricity is the idea that organizations should not only serve their customers, but also get “close to them” — understand what they value, deliver exceptional experiences and memories, and work to build relationships.

In a 2011 article in Fast Company, author Brian Solis wrote:

“It’s not just about communicating with customers, it’s about showing them that listening translates into action within the organization to create better products and services and also foster valuable brand experiences and ultimately relationships with customers. It’s about empowering employees to improve those experiences and relationships in the front line and to recognize and reward their ability to contribute to a new era of customer engagement and collaboration.”

This concept is different from traditional approaches to customer satisfaction (CSAT) scoring, and it shows how we need to change how we look at measuring the customer experience. When customers are represented by scores in a spreadsheet or dashboard, it can be all too easy to detach from the visceral experience customers receive when they buy. Those experiences are delivered or indirectly impacted by employees all across your organization, of whom 71 percent are currently not engaged with their work, according to Gallup.

Another study showed 78 percent of customers have bailed on a transaction because of a poor service experience. There is an additional cost to loyalty from those who have unremarkable service experiences with employees who feel indifferent toward their work. And it’s no secret it costs up to 6-7x as much to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

While every organization is at a different place with varying employee engagement scores and CSAT scores — most organizations have a significant disconnect in the perception of customer experience. In one study, 80 percent of companies claimed they deliver great customer service, but only 8 percent of customers agreed.

Among the first steps to improving customer satisfaction is addressing employee engagement. Employees who are personally invested in their work deliver better experiences to customers, who then return higher satisfaction, loyalty, and lifetime spend.

How to Deploy a Holistic Employee Engagement Strategy to Achieve Your Customer Experience Goals

A recent Forrester Research study showed 79 percent of organizations don’t connect formal reward structures to performance on customer experience (CX) metrics. Most companies aren’t quite sure how to go about aligning employee incentives and rewards with customer outcomes.

If you are ready to set goals for your customer experience, begin with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? What strategic objectives do you have for the next year? With that foundation, consider drafting goals in the following three areas:

  • Customer Experience-Oriented — Specifically target aspects of the customer experience. For example: Aim to improve an aspect of or the overall customer experience and respond to and alleviate negative experiences.
  • Employee Engagement-Oriented — Build a culture of customer centricity. For example: Raise awareness and sensitivity to the customer experience and connect employees to strategic objectives.