Running an e-commerce business is like spinning a coin and then trying to keep it twirling for as long as possible while juggling business functions like sales, marketing, inventory, and customer support. Now picture the customer experience and the employee experience as being on each side of the same coin.
To build a sustainable e-commerce store, you need to focus on both experiences. The dilemma is which comes first: the customer experience (CX) or the employee experience (EX)? At CINNOX, we believe that the EX of frontline team members should be prioritised since they are the source of all good (and bad) CX.
When the customer and employee experiences align, customers are happy with their shopping experiences, employees are engaged, and your sales should continue to grow as they sustain each other. Read on to learn how you can join up both experiences and create delightful shopping experiences for everyone involved.
Why should you care about EX?
The simple answer is that aligning customer and employee experience can help you build a better e-commerce business.
Much has been said and written about the importance of customers. There's also the age-old saying that "the customer is king," which is instilled into frontline service and support staff. However, in their pursuit of growing their customer base and retaining customers, some businesses lose sight of their other "customers"—their employees.
Employee experience is important for e-commerce companies to improve customer relationships and show that they care about the people who serve as their brand ambassadors. If employees are dissatisfied, it will be reflected in the form of disengaged and uninspired team members, as well as poor customer interactions.
On the other hand, when employees deliver great experiences, customers leave positive feedback after their live chat session or even share their experiences on social media. This gives your agents immense job satisfaction, recognition of their effort, and motivates others on the team as well. And so, the cycle repeats.
What are possible experience misalignments?
Aligning consumer and employee experiences is a delicate balancing act, just like spinning a coin. Businesses are not expected to get it right the first time; instead, it's a process of trial and error, identifying the symptoms of lop-sided experiences and correcting them by fine-tuning the tools, processes and workflows until it's just right.
Here are some possible outcomes when consumer and employee experiences are out of alignment:
1. Positive CX, negative EX
Online shoppers are raving about your 24/7 customer support and how your agents quickly answer every question posted on every channel. In reality, while you have succeeded in engaging customers through multiple channels like live chat, social media and more, your agents are working around the clock and are burnt out.
2. Negative CX, positive EX
Your agents love your e-commerce company's zany, unique and informal culture, which allows employees to be their own managers. Customers, on the other hand, are indifferent and complain about unsolved problems, inconsistent answers, and a lack of follow-up on their questions. These are soon revealed by 1-star reviews!
In reality, most e-commerce stores are likely to have customer and employee experiences that fall somewhere between these two extremes, hovering slightly in favour of either customers or employees. Remember, it's better to introduce gradual tweaks to monitor their effects rather than implement wholesale changes all at once.
How to empower employees for better CX
1. Equip your agents with the right tools
You may have a SWAT team of highly trained and motivated contact centre agents with an exceptional emotional quotient. But all of this may be for nothing if they don't have the right tools to do their job. Or if their current tools actually create more work and stress for them when they don't have a single view of the customer, for example.
Start by unifying all your communications channels—chat, voice, email and social—in one place for a start. This will help agents find previous conversations easily and work together to mentor other agents. In addition, route enquiries to the best agent with relationship mapping technology to achieve faster first-time resolution.
Learn more about how you can give your agents a boost in their work with 5 Ways to Turbocharge Your Customer-facing Team’s Productivity.
2. Encourage your agents to work together
Standing alone, a single agent may be good but together they are even more powerful! There's no doubt that synergy, subject-matter experts and the sharing of experiences can all work to contribute to better and faster outcomes for customers. Teamwork is even more crucial if you have remote teams or a hybrid workplace.
In addition to picking a platform that addresses CX by presenting a single view of the customer, for example, it must also provide collaborative EX tools so that agents can seamlessly switch between external and internal conversations without having to toggle between different applications. Look for features like enquiry transfer, inviting attendees to conference calls, along with built-in screen and file sharing.
Unify your teams so they can work faster and smarter together by learning How to Choose the Best Collaboration Platform.
3. Give agents the power of foresight
Answering calls or chats can sometimes feel like a lottery to your agents: they're not sure what they are getting into until the conversation starts. You can reduce stress, help agents anticipate and personalise the interactions in the first crucial seconds before answering an enquiry, and work together for faster and better outcomes.
How? By using the power of technology to deliver just the right amount of information at the right time. Even small details like the customer's location or browsing language can help to start conversations on the right foot. Or use their browsing history along with enquiry labelling to add more context and give your agents more confidence.
Learn about ways you can help your agents achieve success by leveraging The Power of Knowledge: Setting Up Your Teams for Success.
4. Recognise the symptoms of agent burnout
Agent burnout is real, and when it comes to maintaining your agents' mental health, prevention is better than the cure. Burnout presents itself differently depending on the individual: excessive sick leave, continuously poor performance, workplace hostility or indifference, frequent absenteeism, or low energy levels at work.
Customer experience will take a hit if burnout is left unchecked. Have a chat with your agent in a "safe" or neutral place outside of work. Perhaps there are personal or family reasons for their burnout? While trying to understand the root cause, work together on a plan to put your agent back on track and monitor their progress.
Make the mental health of your agents a priority by reading How to Save Your Customer Service Team from Burnout.
5. Make data work harder, not your agents
Unlike agents, AI and machine-powered bots don't burn out. And much data is stored and kept in the dark, only to never be used because it's too troublesome or difficult for humans to make sense of them. So put them to work to make sense of all the information you have accumulated, no matter how insignificant they may appear.
Website traffic and visitor country locations may not mean much on their own. If you run a borderless e-commerce firm, however, merging them with national holidays may reveal spikes in the web pages of certain goods before a holiday in Argentina or Hungary, for example, enabling you to anticipate questions about these products.
Learn more ways you can uncover nuggets of information by Mining Actionable Insights from Customer Data.
Happier employees means better business
The transactional nature of e-commerce means that frontline employees are often not part of the larger business strategy until consumers start looking for help and assistance. By focusing on your employees first, you are laying the foundation for better customer experiences and a more rewarding outcome for your business.