One of the things Starbucks is known for is providing unique and generous employee perks, including health insurance for part-time staff and free tuition for its entire workforce. These business decisions were made based on more than mere altruism, as Corey duBrowa, SVP of global communications at Starbucks, told AdWeek. “When we do the right thing for our employees, it’s also the right thing for our business. When employees are satisfied and engaged, the result is deeper customer connections and an elevated customer experience.” The way Starbucks treats and engages employees affects its ability to build its brand and increase sales. For instance, a 2014 Starbucks customer study showed that 87 percent of the company’s brand affinity was driven by the way Starbucks treats its employees.

A growing body of research supports this, showing that engaged employees may be the key to better customer experience.

  • According to a 2016 study by Temkin Group study, companies that excel at customer experience have 1.5 times as many engaged employees as do customer experience laggards.
  • Companies in the top quartile of employee engagement experience 10 percent higher customer ratings.(Gallup State of the American Workplace)
  • A study conducted by Washington State Universitydetermined that customer satisfaction is directly linked to employee satisfaction and that financial success is directly linked to customer satisfaction. Therefore, employee engagement is indirectly, yet importantly, linked to financial performance.

Despite this clear connection, however, many companies fail to connect the dots between employee engagement and customer experience. The most common barrier occurs when employees feel there’s a disconnect between how the company treats them and how they’re expected to treat consumers. According to Gallup, only 31.5 percent of the U.S. workforce consider itself engaged in work (In its study, Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace).

Companies that want to improve their CX strategy should therefore focus on better engagement with their employees. Here are three simple ways achieve that.

Go Beyond the Numbers
Traditional tools like surveys and performance ratings often fall short in engaging employees. In fact, research has shown that these tools are actually detrimental to individual employees’ overall performance in the long term because they discourage meaningful conversations with managers. Instead of relying on these methods to, look for other ways to encourage two-way conversations with your workforce.

Engage Regularly
Instead of relying solely on an annual employee engagement survey to get a pulse of your workforce, try some of these best-practice tips:

  • Get to know your employees: Highly engaged employees respond 83 percent favorable to the question “My supervisor cares about me as a person,” vs. 4 percent favorable for disengaged employees.
  • Provide basic training: Highly engaged employees respond 96 percent favorable to the question “I have a very clear idea of my job responsibilities,” vs 37 percent favorable for disengaged employees.
  • Develop employees: Research shows that top work groups score higher on providing opportunities for growth compared to bottom work groups.
  • Provide recognition: Highly engaged employees respond 83% favorable to the question, “How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for doing a good job,” vs only 3% favorable for disengaged employees.
  • Build customer-focused teams: Highly engaged employees respond 90 percent favorable to the question “My co-workers are dedicated to providing exceptional service to our clients/customers,” vs 3 percent favorable for disengaged employees.

Get Feedback
As mentioned above, it’s not enough to ask employees for their feedback via an annual survey. In order for employee engagement to drive customer experience, feedback needs to be part of your culture.

  • Ask for feedback often and regularly in order to understand what motivates employees.
  • Turn this engagement into a two-way conversation that includes showing employees how their insight is driving change.

Employees are obviously an important factor in improving customer experience. Not only does their level of engagement drive CX, but they can also be a critical source of CX insight. Keeping customers happy and keeping employees engaged are two sides of the same coin. Optimum CX can help you better understand employee engagement in order to drive customer experience success. Call us today at 775-499-6400 or visit us at to find out how.