Improve Employee Engagement to Improve Customer Experience

January 24, 2016

by Carla Johnson

2016 certainly had its share of customer experience challenges – airline system outages, tainted burrito ingredients and exploding balancing scooters. Understanding how these gross mishaps come about begs a straightforward question: how can corporate chiefs allow an environment in which checks and balances miss catching these contemptible mistakes?  Are the values they hold as leaders misaligned with what matters to employees?

Content marketers are getting ever more sophisticated in how we build audiences and create emotional connections between customers/prospects and our brand. But increasing revenue takes more than external delight. It requires companies to ensure they have internal teams in place that have the mindset, talents and passion to keep the promises that marketing makes come alive. The only way to have certainty is to focus as much on the corporate culture through employee engagement as we do on customer engagement.

Engaged verses disengaged

Research from Gallup highlights what a poor job companies do in making employees feel good about where they work. Gallup defines three tiers of employees:

  • Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.
  • Not-engaged employees are essentially “checked out.” They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time – but not energy or passion – into their work.
  • Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

With 69 percent of employees either not engaged or actively disengaged with their work, it becomes clear how companies stumble so drastically when it comes to basic competence much less delivering stellar experiences for customers.

What’s the difference between someone who’s engaged verses disengaged with the work that they do? Engaged employees understand the impact of their actions. That can mean working across departments to develop seamless service, creating innovative approaches to doing business or proactively helping customers solve problems. And, with an estimated $450 to $500 billion dollars lost in productivity a year through disengaged employees, paying attention to what matters to employees is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a ‘must’ have.

Marketing’s role in building engagement

What does all of this mean for content marketers?


Forty one percent of all employees don’t know what their company stands for or what makes them different from everyone else in the marketplace. The ultimate goal of content marketing is to engage audiences, educate them, deliver value and, ultimately, drive revenue. We assume “audience” means people external to our company. However, if we expand that idea to include employees, we can apply the same content marketing strategy and execution to deliver interesting and valuable information to create rich experiences for employees that emotionally engage them to our company. And when employees are emotionally engaged, they care about the quality of service that’s delivered and how to better care for customers.

Educating employees and curing the gap of understanding is where content marketing comes into play. It’s time that we dedicate an equal amount of time internally as we do externally to connect with audiences. This means making the investment to educate employees on the value of what our company delivers, why we’re different and how to make that story come to life.

Employees perform based on what’s measured, rewarded and celebrated. How well do we tell the story of what matters to our company to the people who create and deliver experiences to customers? Unless employees know, understand and believe in what our company stands for, they’ll never be engaged. And disengaged employees will never deliver inspiring and delightful customer experiences.

Take one of the icons of customer experience – Disney. Dubbed “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Disney has happy, engaged people who are serious about delivering phenomenal experiences for their customers. Disney understands that engaged employees deliver better service, which increases customer satisfaction. And satisfied customers become repeat customers and referral sources for new business. That means more sales (either bigger revenue per sale or a greater volume) and that turns into higher revenue coming in the door.

Day-in and day-out, Disney consistently builds employee engagement so cast members (the title every employee holds) become passionate about creating amazing experiences for customers. By consistently educating, celebrating and rewarding employees for exhibiting the principles of the brand – safety, courtesy, efficiency and show – Disney puts employees first so that they, in turn want to put customers first.

When it comes to customer experience, are you missing the most important resource?

Are you interested in creating a stronger brand story that engages employees and creates stellar experiences for customers? Contact me and let’s talk about how we can help. Or follow me on LinkedIn, and Twitter, and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

Photo credit: Disney

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author