Last week, many of our customer experience  (CX) analysts  including me and my colleague Sam Stern were glued to their computer screens, watching a presentation by a big bank. It had introduced a tool to capture and manage ideas from its employees on how to improve the customer experience. This presentation mattered to us because only 25% of CX professionals say their companies’ CX programs actually improve customer experience. Those who fail lack insight into the root causes of poor CX. And those root causes lie in the customer experience ecosystem. So while many companies have programs in place to mine voice of the customer, customer feedback alone is insufficient to get at root causes of bad CX because it penetrates only the top layers of the ecosystem.

This is why companies need to add voice of the employee. Think of your colleagues throughout the organization as canaries in coal mines. They can warn of potential experience issues before customers notice them, alert you to processes, policies, and technology systems that prevent them from providing a good customer experience, help understand how product-related activities that are behind the scenes  like pricing  affect customers, and highlight how the workplace culture affects employees' motivations and abilities to deliver the intended experience. Voice of your employees (VoE) is:

Any feedback from employees or partners that pertains to their ability to deliver great customer experiences.”

If you want to better diagnose the root causes of CX issues, you need an effective VoE program that is integrated with your voice of the customer program. An effective VoE program should accomplish four tasks:

  • Collect feedback from employees systematically. CX teams have to cast a wide net to collect different elements of VoE data, from insights about a customer's pain points to the underlying policies, processes, and technology systems affecting the customer's — and the employee's own — experience. The insights will come from a variety of data sources, solicited (like an employee survey or comment box) as well as unsolicited (like social media comments), structured (like surveys and performance evaluations) as well as unstructured (like open comments), and direct as well as implied (like attrition rates). Your task is to collect feedback in a disciplined way and to make it effortless for employees to give feedback.
  • Uncover root causes of CX issues. It's not enough to collect feedback from employees. CX teams need to analyze the data and integrate it with other sources like customers' feedback or operational data to get a full picture of the causes of poor CX. And  very importantly  get employees involved in identifying the root causes of bad experiences.
  • React to feedback and solve issues. CX teams must collaborate with employees and partners to prioritize the identified issues and to develop and implement solutions to the problems.
  • Explain how employees' feedback is used. In order to keep employees engaged, CX teams must close the loop with employees and share how their feedback is being used. This feedback loop reinforces the value of delivering feedback.

Get ready to become a CX leader and start building an effective VoE program. To get it right, first make an inventory of the current VoE sources by looking at customers' journeys and the underlying ecosystem as well as the employment journey. Then use this as a basis to develop a road map for the VoE listening posts to enhance or develop. Once you have a better idea of where you want the VoE program to go, you’ll need to think about how to free up and train employees to ensure that you get quality feedback and how to make giving feedback a priority for employees so that you get lots of it. And then consider which vendors can help you build that program  think of not only voice of the customer vendors but also HR consultancies, enterprise social networking platforms, and ideation platforms. And finally, create a routine of asking yourself every day: Have I listened to what an employee of my company had to say about the employee or customer experience?

If you want to read more about how to build an effective VoE program and about companies that have succeeded in doing so, read Sam's and my new report: "Cure Broken Customer Experiences With Voice Of The Employee Programs."