Agent Experience before Customer Experience

Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group has said: “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat their customers”. But it seems like many companies are now more focussed on customer experience (CX) & might have overlooked the employee side of the equation.

Megan Burns, CEO of Experience Enterprises, has been helping businesses put employees first. We got a chance to have a quick chat with her at Customer Contact Week (CCW) in Vegas regarding her work on human-centered experience. Here is an excerpt from our insightful conversation with her:

Tell us a little bit about where the journey of Megan Burns started?

Megan: I have always been interested in the customer experience. In the early days, the customer experience was more about website usability & user experience (UX). Companies were still trying to understand why CX & UX was important.

As an analyst at Forrester Research, I studied customer experience management best practices & helped firms apply what we learned to improve customer experience, employee experience, and business results. I built one of the first maturity models for CX to get leaders starting to think about CX.

From web usability to CX across all channels. What is the difference you are seeing today?

Megan: The recession we had a decade ago was one of the key turning points for CX. That’s when businesses realized that it was very hard to acquire new customers, but they had to take steps to satisfy & retain their current customers.

Today, nobody has to argue that CX is important, everyone knows it’s important. But everyone is now talking about how to achieve that ideal state of customer experience.

How do you see the customer support teams contributing to customer experience?

Megan: Frontline teams get it! Customer experience is important to them & they don’t like frustrating people any more than you or I.

The shifting job market has really helped, it’s hard to get quality agents these days. And this is facilitating the shift of organizations to think about supporting & empowering their agents. It’s driving the change of thinking about the employees before the customer experience.

At Airbnb, managers no longer have to approve expenses below $500. Productivity has gone up; spending hasn’t.

Then how do you start with employee experience before customer experience?

Megan: I believe in the human side of customer experience. Organizations need to think about the employee experience & how to adapt their habits for better customer experience.

Customer experience is for a company what exercise & eating healthy is for an individual. Everyone knows it’s important, but very few people actually do it.

Organizations need to understand how AI can enable employees to work better, how it can make their customers feel better about the product or service & then look at technologies that can help us achieve that.

You need a coach for customer experience too, where the coach can help you with human issues. The employee issues are not always easy to solve with process, technology or training. It is a combination of many things & the end goal is to help people to do better & be better.

For agents to do their best job, they need to feel empowered & motivated. And this goes back to giving the power to your agents to do a great job!

What are your thoughts on AI & human interactions?

Megan: AI has potential, but it has the potential to be a fad or something people don’t understand or how to leverage.

Just like any other technology, organizations need to understand how AI can enable employees to work better, how it can make their customers feel better about the product or service; and then look at technologies that can help us achieve that.

Here are our 3 key takeaways:

  1. Trust & empower your agents to do better & be better
  2. Happy employees create a great customer experience
  3. If humans weren’t there we won’t need technologies, so think how it can empower your agents

About Megan Burns: Megan Burns is an expert in customer-centricity, culture, and experience management, a veteran keynote speaker, and a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 executives. For 20 years, she has been helping companies grow by putting people at the center of their business.

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