Why Elite Organizations Focus on – the Experience of the Employee

I have been a customer for, 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, (I am neutral on T-Moble since I could walk to their world headquarters from my home). The agent serving me grossly misled me as to what I was receiving. When the bill came, it was four times what it should have been. In my first call to customer service, the agent knew precisely what had happened. I had been scammed, and said so plainly. Of course, he was powerless to do anything but refer me back to the store and an offer to file a report to the regional manager. Both of whom never returned calls or were always unavailable. Additional calls to customer service brought more of the same. Agents who were powerless to do anything other than refer me back to the store and make a report to the regional manager. A month after the transaction, my complaint was resolved. However, I was told that the fault was my own, but out of their respect for my customer loyalty, they would honor my request. They consented to take back the junk I did not want but was told was “free” so I should advantage of the offer (it was not free).

While the customer experience is a recurring theme in business writing and research, there is another experience that is becoming part of our organizational thinking – the employee experience. I have often wondered about the experience of those agents who work in stores that service and 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.

Forward-thinking organizations are beginning to realize that the employee experience 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 customers 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 does it take to build an employee experience that is consistently deployed across the organization? Can relying on the generous good will of individual leaders do the trick? My own research says no, the highest performing organizations design systems of leadership and then train, coach, and mentors every leader how to provide an experience their employees are wanting – growth, opportunity, development, respect, and meaning.

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