04 Dec CX and EX: Balancing Company Policies And Customer Service Agent Needs
Business is business. We get it. Companies need to make money to thrive, and to have employees in the first place. Policies are important to business. As they grow, clear policies help define brand, develop customer experience (CX) and assist companies to scale. However, people are people too. Employee needs must be met for companies to benefit from their great performance. This builds positive employee experience (EX) for long-lasting relationships. Yeah, we know. Relationships are hard. But human beings (and businesses) don’t do well on an island alone. Build your CX and EX together.
Policies and Powerlessness
Policies are necessary for consistency, brand building, QA tracking. They are tools that need to be conveyed clearly to employees so they can implement them. When employee needs are at odds with company policy problems arise. For example, some companies don’t trust their customer service agents to use their accumulated knowledge and judgement. Instead, they restrict how agents can help a customer. With certain interactions, this renders the agent powerless to assist the customer (and wondering why they took the job in the first place).
Ridgid (and bad) customer service scripts also put agents at odds with customers if those scripts are insufficient to handle the customer issue. No one wants to look like an idiot in their job. Policies that force agents to repeat useless information instead of using critical and creative thinking devalue agents abilities. This also opens them up to customer abuse as customers become frustrated with the lack of resolution and what appears to the customer as stupidity or obstinance.
Imagine this scenario:
“Think of an employee torn between obedience and customer-centricity. They may genuinely want to help a customer (helping boosts serotonin). But they also want to keep their job, so they grudgingly enforce policies they know make no sense, and they’re just as frustrated as customers at how absurd they are. When forced to choose, the long-term benefits of steady employment are more powerful than the short term satisfaction of meeting the customer’s needs.” – Megan Burns
What we see here is the employee exits the interaction with a dissatisfying job and the customer exists the interaction without resolution. The business is at risk of losing both.
Jeckyll and Hyde Business – CX vs EX
Organizations need employees to interface with their customers. A company’s policies for its customers need to tell the same brand story as a company’s policies for its employees. A two-faced Jeckyll and Hyde style company with one face for its customers and another for its employees backfires.
We see a lot of attention on CX, but it is important that companies do not forget about EX. Sometimes agents are expected to put their needs aside for that of the company. That is not a recipe for longevity. Like Megan Burns points out: “You can’t have great customer experience without great employee experience (EX), at least not for long.”
The employee-company relationship is a symbiotic one. When both are happy and successful together they create a successful business.
How Companies Can Build EX
Now it’s not that we want employees going rogue on company policy, but trust is a key component to relationships. (If you didn’t trust them why did you hire them?)
Policies are a roadmap, a guide to keep companies, employees and customers on the same, compliant page. But business, like life, isn’t always neat and tidy. Be prepared for surprises. They happen. As you evolve your company policies give yourself the opportunity to evolve your employee relationships by empowering your employees to use their accumulated knowledge of working with your customers and products every day. As Shep Hyken points out in his article, this kind of latitude helps businesses to keep customers as well.
Take the more mundane, repeated tasks off agent desks with AI tools that lighten the load. This frees up your experienced agents to help customers in unforeseen and unique challenges.
Engage in quality training so that your employees are as prepared as possible to handle customer inquiries with ease. We know, it would be great if training was one and done, but it doesn’t work that way. As your company grows you need to keep your employees ahead of the curve.
Treat employees as human beings and invest in their overall well being. Wellness programs benefit both sides. Employees get tools to improve their health and employers have less absenteeism and more energized and engaged workers. ClassPass recently launched their corporate wellness arm with companies like Google and Etsy. “With ClassPass’ new program, the more people engage in healthy behaviors, the more benefits they receive,” said Lanman. “We are proud to introduce a global corporate wellness program designed from the ground up to align our business with what’s best for the employer and its employees.”
For lasting customer-business and employee-business relationships, make sure your EX game is as strong as your CX game.