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Whether you’re a CEO or first line manager, if you have a human-centric approach to business, understanding the connection between how you treat people and business success is clear. And therefore, understanding the connection between employer branding and customer experience is obvious.

Yet in my experience of speaking with leaders across countries, industries and business units, this connection is not always clear to everyone. Reasons vary, but through this article I hope to put forward thoughts on the connection between these ‘two’ very crucial business areas for competitive advantage, and help leaders reflect on what the first steps to a seamless employee experience and customer experience could look like.

But first, a short and simple description of each:

Employer branding is how you go about attracting, engaging and retaining potential and current employees. It’s who you are and how you are perceived as an employer. The employee experience is embedded in your employer brand.

Customer experience is what you are known for amongst customers based on how they feel treated, and the level of service provided. There’s also an element of customer loyalty towards your brand.

There’s a cyclical relationship between employee experience and customer experience, they are not separate concepts but two parts of a whole.

There’s quite a simple logic around this.

If an employee’s needs are met and they understand the organisation’s purpose they feel aligned with, they have the foundation to feeling satisfied and engaged. This means they have all they require to perform at their best and provide an exceptional customer experience.

As positive feedback from customers comes in and business thrives, employees feel even more motivated to provide exceptional customer experience. If they are informed, they first hand understand the impact of their contribution to the business. And the cycle starts again.

As a business leader, you have the power to initiate this cycle by reflecting on the type of employer you want to be, and what you want to be known for with your customers.

There’s a (business) reason behind Richard Branson famous mantra of putting employees first.

Adopting a human-centric approach to business – investing in employer branding practices and developing a great employee experience – is not about being nice. Research consistently shows a correlation between employee experience metrics (e.g. employee satisfaction) and business outcomes (e.g. increased revenue).

There are so many studies to go off, but I stumbled upon this recent 2022 Harvard Business Review study conducted in the UK retail sector which concluded that stores whose customer-facing employee base was more tenured, had more experience in prior rotations, was higher skilled, and was more skewed towards full time, generated a 50 per cent increase in revenue.

Gallup, world experts in human insights are constantly updating their studies linking employee engagement and business outcomes. This 10th meta-analysis iteration (2020), saw a difference of 18 per cent in productivity (sales) and 23 per cent in profitability between workgroups with low engagement scores, and those with high engagement scores – read here.

And if getting into all this research is not your thing, you’ve probably heard of Richard Branson’s famous quotation:

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

This is not to say that Richard Branson’s businesses are perfect. Yet this mindset allows for the understanding that business results can only be achieved through employees. It supports the concept that lack of investment in your people-machine is a business risk, because it has a direct impact on your customers, and shareholders.

Treating others how you would like to be treated can be a great starting point for any work on employer branding and customer experience.

All of this may sound obvious, or, overwhelming, depending on where you sit on the human-centric approach-to-business continuum.

In these situations, I like to coach my clients into reflecting on little steps they may be able to take in the direction they’d like to move into. Truthfully, even reflection is at times a step!

Listing a couple of questions here to get you started:

  • What are non-negotiable behaviours to you?
  • What do you really stand for?
  • Today, how would employees describe the organisation to their family and friends?
  • What are you known for with your customers?
  • What employee and customer needs do you think you meet?
  • Who can help you with improving your sales through your employees?
  • What simple action can you start tomorrow that will contribute to your employer brand and customer experience?

In conclusion, your employee experience and customer experience are intrinsically linked and mutually reinforced. Engaging in employer branding practices to foster the right employee experience can set off a virtuous cycle that can propel your businesses to new heights of success. I say this, because if you’re already doing well, imagine how much better you could be doing?! After all, engaged employees lead to loyal customers, and vice versa – this is a symbiotic relationship that no business can afford to ignore.

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