Connecting the Dots: The Link Between Employee Engagement & Customer Experience

Connecting the Dots: The Link Between Employee Engagement & Customer Experience

Marketers recognize the strong connection between employee engagement and the quality of a brand’s customer experience. For instance, according to the Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, highly engaged employees are more than four times as likely to do something good for the company that is not expected of them, compared with disengaged employees.

There are many examples of brands who tout their commitment to employee engagement as a key to their success. Starbucks is well-known for placing great importance on fostering employee engagement. One way they demonstrate that is by referring to their employees as “partners,” which reinforces their belief in shared success. On a grander scale, their Starbucks College Achievement Plan is designed to encourage employees to grow as an individual as well as in their career. How do these efforts relate to their customer experiences? In the words of CEO Howard Schultz, “You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management.”

Southwest Airlines is another brand that recognizes the role their employees play in delivering meaningful customer experiences. Gary Kelly, Southwest’s CEO, puts it this way, “Our people are our single greatest strength and most enduring long-term competitive advantage.” The company makes it a regular practice to share employee success stories of actions that resulted in exceptional customer service. That includes weekly “shout outs” from the CEO, feature articles in their corporate magazine, and internal videos that help employees see the positive impact their efforts have on customers’ lives.

What companies likes these have in common is a thorough process for measuring, educating, and encouraging employee engagement. Without that, an organization may be missing opportunities to enhance their customer experiences, or worse, they could be leaving their brand vulnerable to losing customers, resulting in negative financial performance. Here’s a checklist of strategies you can use to ensure employees are vested in your brand promise and understand the influence their actions have on your customer experience (CX).


The Four E’s of Employee Engagement


  • Assess employee awareness and understanding of your company’s vision, mission, and brand promise
  • Determine degree of employee buy-in with these directives
  • Gather feedback on the availability and quality of resources enabling positive engagement


  • Map out the full spectrum of the employee experience and identify behaviors that link to specific CX touchpoints
  • Quantify the impact of positive action on customer behavior
  • Estimate the potential cost of disengaged employee behavior in terms of lost customers and the bottom line


  • Create a customer-centric culture that celebrates stories about employees whose efforts lead to a positive CX interaction
  • Share CX goals and performance metrics to demonstrate what success looks like
  • Socialize key findings from employee engagement surveys and solicit ideas to help deepen levels of engagement


  • Integrate employee engagement topics into department meetings to make it a regular part of team interactions
  • Include creativity and team-building exercises in training programs to foster a forward-thinking, solutions-oriented mindset among employees
  • Experiment with new ways of encouraging positive employee engagement to find what works best in your organization

The most successful companies treat employee engagement as seriously as customer experience. They find ways to ensure their employees understand exactly how their work impacts and shapes their customers’ experiences. Which of these steps does your company currently take? What is your company’s method for monitoring and aligning employee engagement with your brand promise? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how the power of fully engaged employees drives your customer experience success.


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