Customer Experience Round-Up: April 6

Customer experience starts with a company’s first customers: its employees. If employees aren’t valued and engaged, they won’t create a strong customer experience. But if employees are excited to show up to work and feel empowered by the company, it shines through in customer experience. This week brought three stories of employee experience in our uncertain times and how it can impact customers.

More Companies Keeping Tabs On Employees

As the number of employees around the world working from home grows, more companies are looking into software to keep tabs of their workers. This software tracks keystrokes, takes random screenshots and monitors website visits to ensure employees are on task, especially when working remotely. These types of programs are legal and are often used in traditional office settings. However, a growing number of employees feel uncomfortable with the software being used in their homes.

Employee tracking software must run a fine line. On one hand, companies need to protect their assets and intellectual property, especially when employees are working away from a centralized office. But on the other hand, it can easily make employees feel like Big Brother is watching or that they are being babysat. Companies can have the software, but they need to go about it in a way that involves employees and is transparent about what information they are collecting and why.

Grocery And Retail Employees Strike

This week, Whole Foods employees staged a “sick-out”, Instacart shoppers and delivery drivers held a strike and Amazon warehouse employees walked out in response to what they see as a lack of employee protections from the coronavirus pandemic. Employees are fighting for hazard pay and sick leave for employees who haven’t yet been tested for COVID-19. Whole Foods employees called in sick in droves to draw attention to their demands. Instacart employees want better access to disinfectant and higher pay for the risks they face, and Amazon employees say the warehouse hasn’t been properly disinfected. The strikes are making waves, but so far none has led to significant changes for the companies or their employees. 

One of the basic principles of employee experience is creating an environment where employees feel safe and valued. In trying times like the current pandemic, those fears of safety can be even higher. Listening to employees, inviting their feedback and being aware of their needs can help cover their basic demands. When companies have a system in place to gather employee feedback, they can often avoid large-scale walkouts and create a positive and evolving employee experience. 

Leading Retailers Furlough Thousands Of Employees

With closed stores and uncertain dates for re-opening, retail giants furloughed thousands of employees this week. Macy’s, Gap and Kohl’s announced they will furlough the majority of their thousands of employees, and other retailers followed suit. In most cases, furloughed employees won’t receive pay but will still have access to healthcare benefits for the next few weeks or months. After stores re-open, the employees will have their jobs back without having to re-apply.

While furloughing employees isn’t the same as laying them off because it brings the promise of future employment, it can still be a devastating blow to employees. But in the current circumstances, furloughing employees and cutting staff down to the bare minimum is often the only way stores can survive. Many retailers are providing benefits and healthcare coverage for as long as possible to help the situation. Even during trying times when brands are forced to make tough decisions, they can still prioritize employees and show they are dedicated to their needs. 

Even amidst uncertainty, the most successful companies prioritize their employees, listen to their opinions and show that they are valued. These stories show the connection between creating a strong employee experience and consistently offering great service to customers.

Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Listen to her podcast The Be Your Own Boss Podcast, here.

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