When it comes to building strong relationships and experiences, organizations are often faced with a difficult choice: do they focus on employees or on customers? Like many companies, Adobe had two groups working parallel to each other — one focused on reaching out to employees and the other on building experiences for customers. But then Adobe realized that the two audiences actually worked together, and Adobe’s leadership combined customer experience and employee experience under the direction of Donna Morris, EVP Customer and Employee Experience.
People have always been Adobe’s core asset, and that focus is part of the reason the company has seen such rapid growth. For years Adobe focused on being a great company to work for and building a strong employee experience. But at the end of the day, customers actually drive the business, so the company adjusted its focus to be as great to work with as it is to work for. The two ideas go hand in hand — satisfied and engaged employees are more likely to give their best effort and represent the brand well, while satisfied customers are happier and easier to work with. Central to the idea of bringing employees and customers together is to focus on people and make them the core of the organization’s culture and strategy.
Although they are similar, uniting the focus on these two groups isn’t something that can happen overnight. In order to be truly successful, there must be a cultural change that emphasizes the importance of employees and customers. Employees need to understand the metrics of how customer experience and satisfaction are gauged and know what the company’s goals are to improve the scores. Each person should see how his or her role plays into the larger customer experience.
With a changed mindset, companies can evaluate their processes to see how employee and customer experience can be connected. According to Donna, many organizations will be surprised by how easily their core mechanisms can be aligned to streamline the experience model, especially if employees are using the same products and becoming customers themselves. Adobe does this by using employees as advocates for its customers’ needs. Any employee can report an issue about the software or service quickly and easily, which means that issues can be resolved as soon as they are spotted instead of waiting for customers to find issues and go through the entire reporting process themselves. Employee compensation at Adobe is also tied to customer experience, which drives a greater incentive to put the customer first. Regularly checking in with employees through engagement surveys provides the company with periodic updates to see where it is improving and where it can continue to grow. It also helps measure how connected employees feel to the customers and creates opportunities for feedback.
One of the keys to building a strong customer and employee experience is to focus on the long-term relationship with each group. Instead of simply getting a customer to make a sale or pushing an employee to hit their quarterly goals, organizations should look for ways to build lasting relationships that keep customers and employees satisfied and coming back for more. An often overlooked aspect of building relationships is focusing on empathy and understanding where people come from. When leaders and organizations focus on emotions, they can foster better employee and customer bonds.
Although customer and employee experience are similar, organizations can’t just apply a one-size-fits-all solution. One of Adobe’s biggest challenges and opportunities is providing the right experience for its wide array of customers. With more than 100 different products, the company’s customers range from individuals to large global corporations, and each group has a different set of needs. Adobe hopes individual customers can be entirely self-directed and get great service and answers without contacting the company. On the opposite end of the spectrum are large companies, where Adobe is considered a thought partner and who require more interaction to understand and address their concerns. In order to best meet the needs of customers at varying levels, employees need to receive the right training and be aware of the service required for each type of product. Putting that in motion means that employees must understand the products and their customers and feel comfortable and supported in the workplace to deliver quality service.
As customer experience and employee experience both become a larger focus at organizations, it seems only natural that they will grow together. Both of these experiences are connected and should be constantly evolving based on the trends, technology, and needs of both groups. By focusing on the connected experience of employees and customers, organizations don’t need to put one group ahead of the other and can enjoy a cohesive experience with a strong people-centric culture.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.
Disclosure: Adobe is a client of Blake Morgan’s speaking business.