I was consulting with a senior leadership team about designing experiences across their business. At one point in the meeting I was blending the concepts of customer and employee experience under a broad banner called the business’ “overall experiential offering.” A well-meaning executive spoke up to encourage a more precise use of terms. He said, “lets keep the customer and staff members separate and develop different strategies for each.” Being blessed with so much work that I no longer need to monitor my honest thoughts, I spoke out by simply asking “why?” I knew all the traditional answers, heck I’ve offered some of them myself. Those answers include reality such as different departments overseeing customers and staff, and organizational structures that provide different communication teams for customers and for staff As members of that leadership team answered my spontaneous question in predictable ways, I acquiesced to their conventional wisdom and resistance and two very different channels of experience were designed for their organization – one for customers and one for staff. But ever since that meeting I’ve been wondering if the traditional approach is really the best one.
Upon reading a blog entry, written by Erin Raese, Editor-in-Chief of Loyalty Management it seems that others are asking a similar question. Erin writes, “One piece I keep coming back to is the similarities between consumer focused loyalty and engagement strategies, and those of the employee channel. There are so many similarities, yet organizations continue to keep the strategies and messaging to these entities separate. – Why?” Why indeed Erin?
Erin and I seem to share a definition of “customer” championed by the loyalty marketers association, Loyalty 360. Loyalty 360 defines a “customer” as anyone your organization touches. By that definition a customer is your employee, vendor, channel partner and of course your end user.
Erin concludes by asking two rather interesting questions, “why do we continue to be so segmented in the way we approach strategies for employees and consumers?” and “Are we…too siloed within our organizations to share learnings across departments and responsibilities?” As you ponder those, I’ll add a few questions of my own…
1) How are your customer and employee engagement strategies similar and how are they different?
2) Are those differences truly necessary or are they simply artifacts of tradition and organizational structure?
3) What aspects of your approach to engaging customers might work also work in engaging your best employees?
I stand behind my view that business success depends on “profiting people through people” – no matter what labels we place on those people. Most of the mapping strategies I advocate are parallel for customers and employees and are designed to deliver exactly the same outcomes for all people the business touches. How about your processes and outcomes – when must they diverge for the people inside and the people outside the business?