The impact of employee experience on customer experience has been explored in great detail. In fact, “happy employees equal happy customers” has become a motto for some of the world’s biggest brands. But, what about the inverse? Does making a customer happy, make an employee happy?

In research from 2012, professors from Hallym and California State University suggested it was a one-way relationship – that while higher employee engagement caused higher customer satisfaction, it wasn’t as strong the other way around.

That’s worrying news for any brand looking to create a sustainable, long-term CX program – because if your employees get nothing from it, things start to come undone.

So what can you do to create a more sustainable model, whereby happy employees = happy customers, and happy customers = happy employees?

First, here are some of the reasons employees can feel left out by CX or higher customer satisfaction:

  • When they get good customer feedback, no one at their company knows about it – for example, a shop assistant might help a customer find what they’re looking for, but what if there’s no way for that customer to share positive feedback?
  • They’re modest and don’t want to shout about their own CX wins – it’s hard for some people to bring up good customer feedback, or forward on an email from a happy client to their colleagues. It also creates an inaccurate picture of employee performance, as confident employees won’t feel the same reticence about sharing good feedback.
  • Customer satisfaction fluctuates – it can sometimes feel like “what have you done for me lately?” with customers, where past experience means little. So employees have no time to savor a customer win, as they’re expected to do it again right away.
  • The bar is so high for customer satisfaction – the NPS model means it’s harder to make a customer a promoter than a detractor, which can discourage employees from going the extra mile.

Ways to make customer satisfaction a driver for employee engagement

1. Understand it’s more important to be recognized by your company, than by a customer

We know from our employee experience research that being recognized by your manager and colleagues for good work is a key driver of employee experience. So make sure that when a customer flags good work, it’s cascaded through the organization and shared with colleagues. Focus on translating good customer feedback into career opportunities and recognition from senior leaders.

2. Broadcast good customer feedback around the company

Put processes in place to amplify good customer feedback around your organization – and make sure it’s attributed to the employee that got it. You might want to publish good customer feedback or NPS Promoters on your intranet. Or, make sharing good news stories a part of regular team meetings. This can kick-start a culture of customer centricity amongst your employees by demonstrating very publicly that delivering for customers is something that is recognized and rewarded in the company.

3. Collect customer feedback from across your organisation

Unearth great examples of customer service by collecting feedback at every moment in the customer journey. It’s common to gather feedback on frontline customer service teams, but what about other teams that deliver for customers? Measuring feedback at every touchpoint, across every channel, means no story of customer satisfaction goes unheralded.

4. Communicate how all feedback is important and why you collect it

Customer-centricity is great and it’s what drives the world’s leading brands. But some teams may feel they bear the brunt of customer complaints when things go wrong. So make sure those teams understand that every bit of feedback is an opportunity to improve, and the reason you collect feedback is to improve their performance and overall employee experience.

5. Balance high expectations and job security

You want to motivate frontline staff to keep improving and deliver incredible CX. But at the same time, an employee who feels they need customer win after customer win just to keep their job won’t be made satisfied by doing it. It’ll just be a relief.

6. Give the credit for good CX to your employees

Nothing annoys frontline staff more than seeing great CX being attributed to the product, or senior leadership. Employees need to know that their efforts were integral in higher renewals, upsells and customer satisfaction. Basically, the credit for CX success needs to be shared around fairly.