This article appears in the Fall 2017 digital issue of DOCUMENT Strategy. Subscribe.

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    Even after all these years, organizations still lack a consistent focus on improving employee experiences and engagement. Given that this is directly tied to customer experiences, it should be a no brainer to make this a real business priority.

    Research shows that a high level of employee engagement has a positive effect on customer satisfaction and financial performance. This makes it a strategic imperative and inextricably linked to business outcomes. These days, every chief executive officer has placed delivering a better customer experience as a number one priority for the enterprise. Therefore, it behooves enterprise leaders to prioritize employee experience, which will translate to better customer experiences and satisfaction.

    Given this priority, enterprises have to consider the full life cycle that links employee engagement to customer experience. Highly productive employees are very engaged. Having the right tools is critical to ensure the seamless flow of business processes, which require communication, coordination, and collaboration with both internal and external constituents. When those processes or workflows deal directly with customer-facing staff, it is vital to have the right technology—or they risk a negative impact on productivity.

    “Research shows that a high level of employee engagement has a positive effect on customer satisfaction and financial performance.”

    An executive in a global company recently explained to me that their internal organizational culture was having a negative impact on engagement. They traced these cycles of disengagement to poor customer experiences. High levels of turnover resulted in inconsistent experiences for customers. Employees weren’t given the right tools for the job. They weren’t cared for and certainly didn’t feel valued.

    In fact, that same executive related a story about a female employee in the human resources (HR) organization who met with the head of HR to discuss her career goals. This employee was an HR manager and intimated that her goal was to become a director in a couple of years. The head of HR responded by saying, “You can forget that. That is not going to happen.” How is that employee going to feel valued? Poor culture and bad behavior were the culprits here. I followed up on this story and found out that employee left the company for a director role at a well-known organization in Silicon Valley. Upon the employee’s exit, the head of HR told her she was valued and was confused why she didn’t feel so. I can’t make this stuff up folks!

    Thus, the same focus that we place on customer experience must be applied to the employee experience as well. Organizations have to be people-centric: period. If the internal culture and employee experiences are horrible, then you can bet the customer experience will be horrible as well. In organizations, you can’t support good customer experiences if your employee experiences are poor.

    To improve both employee and customer experience, organizations have to foster a culture where real conversations are taking place to build trust—first between employees and then with customers. It’s in the conversational flow where information, content, ideas, and values are shared. Fostering better conversations and the tools to do so will have a positive impact on culture, employee engagement, customer experience, and, ultimately, the financial performance of the company.

    David Mario Smith is Founder and Principal Analyst at InFlow Analysis. Dave is a Gartner veteran of over 16 years and an IT industry professional with 20 years of experience in the collaboration and workplace technology markets. For more information, visit or follow him on Twitter @DaveMario.