Which Comes First – Employee Experience or Customer Experience?

3 Tactics for Leaders Who Want Exceptional Customer Experience Cultures

Customer experience isn’t just a nice thing to provide; it’s a critical component for improving the bottom line. Creating a positive emotional connection with customers is the secret sauce for building loyalty.” 

– Bruce Temkin, Managing Partner of Temkin Group

Let us agree on some obvious insights about creating exceptional customer experience cultures. High employee engagement (exceptional employee experience) leads to improved productivity, reduced turnover, improved revenue and profitability and exceptional customer experience. The research is solid (Barrett, 2017).

Can we also agree that leaders bear most of the responsibility for creating exceptional employee engagement? Gallup research tells us that managers are at least 70% of the reason why employees are disengaged (Adkins, 2015). Employees eventually leave because they are disengaged and, according to Gallup, 70% of the time the relationship between the employee and his/her manager is not optimal. Employees expect that relationship to be optimal; and when it is not, it leads to disengagement.

Research also tells us about the most common complaints that emerge in engagement surveys. These include poor communication, unfair pay, lack of job security, favoritism, micromanagement, lack of opportunities and overbearing bosses (National Business Research Institute, 2020). 

OK, now we know the issues. What can leaders do to address these and protect engagement?  Here are three powerful tactics:

  1. Think differently about employee engagement
  2. Create meaning
  3. Educate everyone about emotional intelligence

Think Differently About Engagement

Most medium to large organizations conduct an employee engagement survey. It is interesting that the same issues keep coming up as opportunities for improvement (National Business Research Institute, 2020). This is because many leaders (and therefore the engagement surveys) have the same philosophy, or theory, about engagement. If leaders accept 100% of the responsibility for creating the engaged environment, they miss an enormous opportunity. 

We need to shift our thinking. Employees also have responsibility for reinforcing the engaged environment. The leaders cannot do it alone. Employees have responsibility to find meaning in their work and to behave with emotional intelligence. 

Create Meaning

“If each action can take on meaning, then stress and fear are reduced.” – Dr. Victor Frankl

Of course, leaders must take most of the responsibility to create meaning in the workplace. Because change is happening more frequently and with greater speed, knowing why each job is important to the employee, the customer (both internal and external) and the organization helps minimize fear as Dr. Frankl reminds us. Leaders can create the opportunity to appreciate meaning. Employees can act to align their jobs to their individual life purposes. 

Educating the employees and encouraging them to develop their life purpose shifts some of the responsibility for creating meaning from the leaders to employees. This creates a positive partnership toward achieving high levels of engagement.

Educate everyone about emotional intelligence

Leaders are not omnipotent and omniscient, although sometimes they act like it. When leaders attempt to have all the answers to every problem, they do themselves and the employees a huge disservice. This is called a “manager dependent environment.” When leaders behave this way, they steal accountability from employees.

Instead, leaders can educate employees about emotional intelligence and provide opportunities for them to develop the four major skills: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. The higher the percentage of employees who demonstrate these skills, the less likely the engagement issues will dominate survey results.

We are all familiar with the saying, “Work smarter not harder.” As leaders we have the opportunity and responsibility to help employees share in the responsibility of creating an engaged environment. Take advantage by implementing these three tactics and you will see an exceptional service culture emerge more quickly.

Check out some of Communico’s Rapid Learning Webinars for additional engagement ideas.

Wally Hauck outlines the three tactics for creating an engagement environment below:


Adkins, J. H. (2015, April 5). Employees Want a Lot More From Their Managers. Retrieved from Gallup Business Journal: http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/182321/employees-lot-managers.aspx

Barrett, J. (2017, September 7). The Employee Experience Should Come Before Everything. Retrieved from https://www.business2community.com: https://www.business2community.com/human-resources/employee-experience-come-everything-01913830

National Business Research Institute. (2020). 10 Things Employees Dislike Most About Their Employers. Retrieved from https://www.nbrii.com: https://www.nbrii.com/employee-survey-white-papers/10-things-employees-dislike-most-about-their-employers/

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