By Michel Hogan
The experience employees have becomes the experience customers have, which circles back around to employees in a loop. It can be a doom loop or a boon loop, and the identity of the organisation provides the energy.
If the employees of your organisation feel caught in a mire of draconian decisions, disconnected from any sense of meaning for their work, there is little chance your customers will be happy campers. And grumpy customers take it out on your employees, who then feel even more hopeless. Welcome to the doom loop.
Instead, when employees are the happy campers with a strong sense of why and what they are doing and the feeling it matters, it’s contagious. Grateful bubbly thanks from customers abound. And even one of those can make employees feel giddy. Presto, you’re in a boon loop.
But of course, it’s not hey presto. There is a world of deep work, practice and discipline between those two realities. And there’s no pathway without a clear well-understood org identity foundation of purpose and values.
Without purpose to keep things grounded in what’s most important, and values to provide the ‘how we do things around here’, scant material exists to build experience, and indeed little to make your organisation distinctive.
A well-understood identity infiltrates the experience at every point. Sadly, and far too often, too much effort goes to the customer side of the equation without consideration for the internal realities that are undermining those efforts.
There is no point making promises to your customers if mountain-size barriers make employees feel things are impossible to achieve. I’ve seen a well-intentioned clarion call to ‘focus on the customer’ get the collective eye-roll from employees and customers alike. A promise requires more than a desire to get it done. You’ve got to invest in the things to support it.
I’ve come to realise you can’t look at employee and customer experience separately. They are two sides of the same coin. And you need both to achieve a brand result that people care about.
So, if you’re in the doom loop and looking for an answer, I’d start with identity. If you’re already rocking the boon loop, go you!
This article was first published on SmartCompany, and this updated version can be found in the upcoming book “The Unheroic Work.”
Michel Hogan is an Independent Brand Counsel advising organisations on the risk to their purpose and values of making promises they can’t keep.