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October 05, 2006

Aligning the Employee Experience with the Customer Experience

Over on the Tribal Knowledge book companion site I received a worthy question. (Worthy enough to republish it here.)

Judy asks, “Can you tell me what it means to create an employee experience? How do the best companies ensure that the employee experience is aligned to the customer experience?"

My Answer:
Whoa … that’s a loaded question Judy. Simplistically speaking, creating meaningful employee experiences revolves around making the company something employees can believe in (tribal truth #32). It’s also about a company realizing that its products do not make great brands but rather, its people make brands great (tribal truth #37).

The best companies, namely those listed as one of Fortune Magazine’s "100 Best Companies to Work for in America," spend just as much time marketing to its employees as it does to its customers. In other words, these companies realize that happy, knowledgeable employees will usually translate into happy, knowledgeable customers.

For example … The Container Store is a Dallas-based privately held company specializing in selling boxes, bins, and everything in-between to help consumers organize all their stuff. They have been highly successful with sales in 2005 topping $425 million with just 37 locations in 12 states.

New Container Store employees are given more than 240 hours of training in their first year compared with the industry standard of 7 hours of training per new employee. Employees are paid two-to-three times more than the industry average. And employees are given a generous 40% discount for anything purchased at the Container Store. The company is renowned by retailers and customers as delivering great customer experiences which helps to explain why the company is so successful.

With its focus on making the employee experience matter (tribal truth #33), The Container Store astonishes its employees who in turn, astonish its customers with great customer service.

Given this Container Store example, one sure-fire way to ensure the employee experience is aligned with the customer experience is to treat employees like you would want employees to treat customers. Sounds simple. But if it was so simple, more companies would be doing it ... right?

That's just my take. There are many more takes at how companies ensure the employee experience is aligned with the customer experience. What's your take?


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There is also some really, really simple stuff that gets forgotten in the attempt to deliver "brand engagement". Like treating people with respect, not like a disposable commodity. Like having decent pay, not just the minimum hourly rate. Like some prospect of getting on if you perform. Pret a Manger and First Direct in the UK are great examples of this. Just really simple common sense. But seemingly oh so hard to out into practice!


As far as I am concerned, between you and David you hit a home run. Now there are a few bunts and singles required to create great employee experiences, as individual departments sometime create subcultures needing attention.

Way to go,

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