I have been a customer of, shall I say it? Sprint, for twenty years. Two years ago, I upgraded my old Windows phone for a new Apple phone. While the phone works great, my experience with Sprint was one from hell. I seldom use the word hate. I now freely say I hate Sprint. The agent serving me grossly misled me. When the bill came, it was four times what it should have been. While my experience could have been an outlier, in reading their social media, it seems to be more of the norm. Which leads me to a question, has the experience of the employee been designed to empower the employee or disempower the employee?
Des-Empowering the Employee
In my first call to customer service, the agent knew what had happened. The store representative had scammed me. He told me several pieces of hardware were free. Of course, they were not free. However, the customer service agent was powerless to do anything. All he could do was refer me back to the store and offer to file a report to the regional manager. Neither the regional manager nor the store manager would respond or even return my calls. Additional calls to customer service brought more of the same—customer service agents who were powerless to do anything. A month after the transaction, and two trips to the store, the manager resolved my complaint. Of course, the fault was my own (it was not), but they would honor my request out of respect for my customer loyalty.
While the customer experience is a recurring theme in business research, another experience is becoming part of our organizational thinking – the employee experience.. I have often wondered about the experience of those representatives who work in stores sell mobile phone technology. Every time I go into my Sprint store, there is a new set of agents. From my limited observation, turnover is high. It causes me to ask the question if the company has such little regard for my experience as a customer, what is it like working for them? So, I Googled it. The first response I found said this:
Free subpar cell service, decent benefits, good incentives, great hours
Unethical Department of the company. Most reps are lying to customers and cheating the company to boost their comp. 5-10 New employees coming in weekly almost if that tells you anything. Don’t believe you can make even $50k if you have any moral compass at all. That title is reserved to those willing to do what they have to do to put the numbers up in most cases.
Secret to a Designing a Great Customer Experience
Forward-thinking organizations are beginning to realize that the experience of the employee is critical for a quality customer experience. Based on years of research, the authors of The Employee Experience: How to attract talent, retain top performers, and drive results state: how do companies who consistently win their customer’s loyalty and affection?
“They build brands that seem impervious to harm. What is their secret? It’s right in front of them…It’s your employees. They are the secret to thrilled customers who boost profits, provide referrals, and who keep coming back.”
But there is a deeper question here. What kind of leadership is required to build a consistent customer experience? Do they rely on the generous goodwill of individual leaders? My own research says the highest performing organizations approach leadership as a system that will build a great employee experience. Then the train, coach, and mentor every leader to the requirements of the system. In this way, they provide a consistent employee experience across the organization.