The Employee Experience: the secret sauce to change, evolution & success in CX

Companies are ignoring a challenge that is much earlier in the value chain than identifying their customer experience.  The desire of senior leaders to mandate a cultural shift from product or service to experience has left a void which is the foundation of its success: Employee Experience.

Brands are relentlessly interested in experience.  Digital, customer, virtual, physical to name a few.  Technology is now the blood line whether the appropriate training or configuration is happening or not.  Naturally then, digital tools and applications become the interface for employee and customer alike.  Marketing technology is promising a future that is just shy of visions Hollywood tells in movies like The Minority Report, and even then, some technologies are promising just that. However, technology sells an attractive & superficial vision which appears simple, but is in fact loaded with complexity.

A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits.  They will be embarrassingly large. – Henry Ford

Consider that companies who work with customer service and marketing models established before 2007 are at a disadvantage.  In 2007 the concept of UI & UX became main stream with the iPhone.  Others have copied it, some would argue surpassed it – but whether you are a believer in Jobs or not – Apple’s release of a touch UI (and the platform under it), brought on-demand information and transactions to the masses. This progression remains influential to the evolution within, and creation of, business models. Technology significantly enabled the desires of marketers everywhere – reach your base, expand your reach and offer on-demand value.

Beyond the consumer shift, the underlying reason that 2007 marks a line in time is this: businesses before this date were operating under a traditional marketing and customer service model and underneath it, legacy technology.  Companies who began after moment, had new choices with technology and in turn, its influence on customer engagement, well beyond their predecessors.

Though modern marketing and business technology licenses remain expensive the real cost of executing this part of business remains most significant with the infrastructure to support the operations of these technology and the people who manage and work with them.

And if the technology you employ is as successful as the demos espouse they can be, the costs sore even higher.  Though this is a champagne problem in most cases.

The point of this article isn’t to share something new and different, it is to call attention to the most overlooked piece of CX and digital marketing activation: the employees.

Clients do not come first.  Employees come first. If you take care of your employees they will take care of your clients. – Richard Branson

Humans (and more specifically, employees) are complicated beings with fairly consistent themes:

  • Change in any form, is hard
  • The older we are the harder learning becomes
  • We like identifying the goal, and like less, the process of achieving it
  • If it’s simple to understand, we assume it’s simple to execute
  • Results that take time, are difficult to have patience for

Combining these natural human feelings with everyone also being a consumer, trained by market forces to get what we want & get it now, results in a powerful recipe. A recipe for false starts, frustration, resistance, anxiety and confusion.  Do those characteristics sound familiar?  They should – I took them from Knoster’s chart on organizational change.


I suggest that change, in the scope that digital & customer experience imply, have significantly less to do with the technology you employ than with making sure your employees are informed, invested and planned for.

It is time that we start with the piece of the business that actually makes business run: the people.

Most businesses are coming around to the idea that if your brand isn’t managing the experience of its customers, someone else is. The idea that customer experience exists, regardless of your ability to pay attention to it. (read on)