September 2018 | Point of View

Employee experience (EX) is the new customer experience (CX)

Employee experience (EX) is the new customer experience (CX)

Unemployment rates are at the lowest levels in 18 years. That’s good news for the economy, and even better news for workers – but bad news for companies trying to recruit and retain talent.

Instead of preparing for the next downturn, companies are scrambling to find the people they need to grow their businesses right now. It doesn’t take an Ivy League MBA to see the challenge here: How do you make your current work force as motivated and productive as possible? The answer: It’s time to shift from investing solely in consumer experience (CX) and add employee experience (EX). That means evaluating everything in your organization – technology, processes, people, and culture – to deliver employees a superior experience.

We’re many years into the CX journey at this point. Most sophisticated organizations have built or are building intuitive, user-friendly web portals and interfaces that make the consumer experience more efficient, productive, and fulfilling. Leaders now need to put the same effort and resources into building EX. After all, in this environment it’s almost as easy to change jobs as it is to change credit cards or ride-sharing services. (READ: Winning in the Marketplace Starts With Winning in the Workplace.)

Fortunately, what businesses did in the world of CX translates to EX, especially in promoting what we call the Three E’s: Engagement, Experience and Enablement. And it has to start with technology. The same technology that streamlines consumer interactions can make employees more productive and engaged by reducing errors and eliminating the chore of repetitive tasks.

If you had a choice, would you stay in a job where you had to bounce between several antiquated databases, or one that had a polished online portal that allowed you to quickly find what you needed? Today, almost everybody has a choice. Apply the same design thinking that drives your customer portals to the programs employees use every day, including purpose-built apps to reduce keystrokes and automate repetitive tasks.

It’s surprising how much fat remains in the job of a knowledge worker, whether it’s superfluous paperwork or inefficient systems. Banks are notorious for having employees to enter information into different interfaces, drop down to paper, and shift to the cloud to complete a single transaction. The healthcare industry is still primarily using fax machines to exchange information. West Monroe recently conducted a survey of 500 managers across a variety of white-collar jobs and found they spend three hours a day on mundane administrative tasks that can probably be automated, like expense reporting and approving time sheets.

In the digital world, robotics can automate data entry and perform cut-and-paste operations, leaving your managers in charge of making decisions only a human can make. In the physical warehouse world, autopickers and autosorters let workers perform their tasks with fewer steps. Those people not only go home feeling more energetic, they also feel empowered and engaged.

Investments in CX are easy to justify because the results show up in the top line. But EX is just as important to the bottom line. Labor is a recurring cost, and once you implement systems and processes that make employees more productive it’s the gift that keeps on giving, a perpetual boost to the income statement.

Most employees want to be challenged and remain engaged. With an investment in EX you can provide them with data about their jobs and performance, and attract and retain talent in a tough economy You get a willing partner. Engagement. Experience. Enablement. Technology is the first step to achieve all three.

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