How to Set Employees Up for Success + Drive a Great CX

June 21, 2016 Jiordan Castle

drive a great CX

The people who work for you aren’t just one piece of your operation; they’re the ones delivering experiences to your customers every day. Those experiences can be great, terrible, or so-so, and only through engaging and empowering your employees — essentially making them (gleefully) accountable for the work they do — can you be guaranteed a superior Customer Experience (CX). At Appirio, we call this magical give-and-take the Virtuous Cycle:

Is CX a critical component of your employees’ goals?

According to Forrester, most companies fail to do something that’s key to delivering a great CX, and that’s make employees accountable for the CX. In the vast majority of companies, employee goals don’t:

  • Link every employee’s performance to customer metrics. For starters, most employee performance management plans don’t reward customer centricity. Forrester says that only a third of companies tie employee incentives to CX metrics. As for the bottom line… Just 50 percent of senior executives, 46 percent of customer-facing employees, and 23 percent of back-office managers have part of their compensation tied to CX metrics. Without a monetary incentive or a clearly defined, CX-centric target to hit, employees aren’t likely to put the CX at the forefront of their efforts.
  • Support high-quality experiences across end-to-end customer journeys. Employees at most companies have highly specific performance goals, incenting them to hit targets that only apply to their part of the organization. But customers don’t care about a single team or department’s goals; they care that their experience at every touchpoint along their customer journey is a great one.

That said, it’s clear that companies want employees to take initiative when it comes to creating a customer-centric culture. But expecting autonomy without giving your workers the necessary training and tools is like handing them a laundry list of priorities without a way to effectively get started.


Forrester recommends CX pros do 3 things in order to get the ball rolling on driving a great CX: First, define the behaviors required to help employees meet their goals (i.e., specify with your employees need to be doing (or stop doing) in order to benefit customers); second, train and coach employees on their goals and the behaviors necessary to achieve them (i.e., provide customized training that reinforces specific behaviors to help employees demonstrate prioritizing CX); third, help employees track their goals and course-correct behaviors (metrics and scores don’t help employees improve… In fact, they can be discouraging; communication needs to focus on the why behind scores and concrete steps to help improve performance).

The art of the possible: a great CX, now within reach!

If you want your workers to succeed, you need to enable them with the right goals, conditions, tools, and technologies. This involves 4 things:

  1. Partner with HR to transform existing performance management processes. One recurring theme here is that most companies have mediocre performance management processes in place. That’s part A; part B is to embed new CX goals and expected behaviors into your performance management process. That way, employees understand what’s expected of them and everyone involved (HR, managers, and direct reports) gets more out of the performance reviews and goal-setting.
  2. Prepare employees for upcoming changes in goals and expected behaviors. There are no good surprises when it comes to performance goals and CX metrics. If you prepare employees for new changes to their goals ahead of time, they’re more likely to view these changes as opportunities, rather than as threats to their success.
  3. Adapt CX measurement to track the impact of goals and behaviors. Companies need to measure adoption as the use of key behaviors by customer-facing and internal employees. But it can’t end there. CX leaders also have to monitor CX metrics over time to ensure 2 things — that employees meet goals and exhibit the right behaviors to customers and that these remain the right goals and behaviors to drive CX. Simply put, it’s not enough to give employees instruction and track their individual success; CX leaders need to continuously monitor whether they’ve put the right goals and behaviors in place.
  4. Tailor the rewards and consequences of hitting or missing CX-related employee goals. CX should be important to every single person in your organization, but in different ways and to different degrees of effectiveness/accountability. Seniority and position should determine how CX-related goals affect an employee’s compensation, just as an employee’s ability to affect the CX should determine the weighting of CX goals. For instance, customer-facing roles should obviously have a higher weighting than back-office employees.

If you want your employees to fly (aka deliver the very best customer experiences), you can’t simply kick them out of the nest; you have to give them tools to help them help themselves.


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