It’s harder than ever to compete, whether you sell razors, drinks or project management software. Customer experience – CX – sits at the heart of those efforts – but mostly our CX efforts are still not good enough.
There’s one big reason why. And it’s not an easy fix – but it is fixable.
Disruption is the status quo
Doing business today is harder than ever, whether you’re a start-up or a global pioneer. For two reasons.
1. Increasing competitive pressure
Nearly 60% of start-up founders say it’s harder to run a business today than five years ago. (That’s mainly because 49% struggle to keep pace with technology while 40% bemoan the intensity of direct competition).
“Many categories – in e-commerce, for example – have now been captured, plus lower barriers to entry mean more competition, so most markets are more crowded than ever before. Starting a company is easier than it’s ever been but scaling it to a large success remains the real challenge”.
Large enterprises face their own set of challenges, as they’re disrupted from all angles. Think Gillette versus Dollar Shave Club – new entrants turn categories upside-down, leaving perplexed stakeholders and plummeting profits.
2. Changing customer expectations
As global competition reaches boiling point, the bar is raised. When Gillette were (more or less) the only option, the customer had to choose Gillette. Now, a disrupted market means customers have more choice and better experiences than ever.
That same truth applies in every category. Businesses have stepped up and created a new set of standards. Customers expect Apple-esque innovation. They expect Amazon-like delivery. They expect Netflix-style choice, on-demand.
Even if you own one store in Mississippi selling lightbulbs. That’s the Halo Effect.
What this means is…
Innovation is more important than ever. Businesses must build exceptional customer experiences or be left in the dust as competitors overtake.
Everyone knows that. Which means the standards keep rising, and you find you’re racing to keep up. Unsuccessfully.
Like, Oracle find only 22% of CX leaders report their CX efforts exceed customers’ expectations. And 87% of organizations agree traditional experiences no longer satisfy customers,Accenture say.
The upshot is, successful business rests on creating exceptional customer experiences. But almost everyone is failing. Let’s talk about why.
The missing piece of the customer experience puzzle
The Halo Effect doesn’t only impact customer expectations. It impacts employee expectations too – because employees are customers. Your sales manager loves Netflix; your IT director buys Apple.
So when we say customers have new expectations of flexibility, convenience and customer-centricity, those things apply in the workplace too. Customers expect to be more satisfied than ever; to have their unique needs accommodated. So too do employees.
And just like Gillette and Dollar Shave Club, new entrants (or astute legacy businesses moving fast) disrupt traditional employee experiences.
So your business might offer more flexibility than other big corporates, say. But your people are comparing you to Google or Facebook or that cool new start-up down the road.
In other words, high employee engagement directly translates into better business outcomes.
That’s true on two levels:
Employer brand. Employee engagement is your employer brand, it’s that simple. When you deliver a subpar employee experience, you’ll find it more difficult to attract people into the business. So you’ll never quite have the A-listers your business needs. The A-listers who power innovation and deliver exceptional experiences.
Company culture. Poor employee experience creates a culture of disengagement, and disengaged employees don’t deliver exceptional services or experiences. That’s true for your crucial customer-facing roles – like sales and customer service – but equally true back-end. Product engineers who don’t go the extra mile are just as damaging.
The fact is, poor employee engagement means you’ll struggle to get the best people into your business – and struggle to get the best from them once they’re there.
Which means they won’t (can’t) deliver the experience you need for customers.
Employeeexperience should be your biggest priority
Happy, engaged employees make for happy, engaged customers. So businesses must give employees a customer-like experience in the workplace – that’s how to transform the customer experience and stay competitive.
Look beyond the obvious things like employee benefits. Perks matter, but a culture of engagement runs deeper.
Like, only 12% of employees strongly agree their business does a good job of onboarding. As Gallup say, it’s no wonder you struggle to engage employees long-term, if you don’t start on the right foot.