Employee Experience vs. Consumer Experience: What’s the Difference?

Most companies roll out the proverbial red carpet for their customers, making sure their buying experience is easy, comfortable and pleasant. That’s not always the case when it comes to their employees, however. Inflexibility, negative cultures, power plays and other unproductive behaviors can not only demotivate employees, but also result in poor treatment of customers.


Successful companies understand the people who work for them are their most important asset. They treat their employees like “internal customers,” working on ways to understand and motivate them from the recruitment stage to senior level managers. This results in less sick time, more empowerment, and employees whose dedication to the company brings in better profits and more customers.

It seems simple, but how do you go about it? First, how are employees like customers? Nick Kemsley, from the Henley Business School, defines several ways employees are like consumers:

  1. Portfolio thinking. Employee loyalty, like consumer loyalty, needs to be tended to. Today’s employees think about future positions and different workplaces.
  2. Easy to switch jobs. Social media, especially LinkedIn, has made job-changing easier, and telecommuting options mean geography is no longer a barrier.
  3. Skills shortage. In an up-market, employers vie for skilled workers. Companies who invest in their employees and create a positive culture are more likely to keep their workers.
  4. Personal brand equity. Customers who proudly display a logo or use products are one of the best ways to promote your brand. Employees need to feel the same loyalty.
  5. Changing attitudes toward work. Work was once a 9 to 5 experience. Now it is woven into an employee’s life. Consumers want to believe in the products they use. Employees want to believe in their company’s purpose and culture.

While most companies say people are their most important resource, companies don’t always show it. For many executives, employees are last in the pecking order after investors and customers.

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Co-founder and CEO Ravin Gandhi of GMM Nonstick Coatings says treating your employees the same way you treat your best customers can lead to more sales, higher revenues and bigger profits. Here are his ideas about treating employees like your best customers:

  • Don’t take employees for granted. Their commitment and loyalty guarantees success.
  • Better insight. Customer feedback is important, and so is feedback from employees. Use frequent check-ins to gauge how employees feel about the company and uncover any problems early.
  • Better customer service. Your employees are on the front line with your customers. If they are happy and motivated, the customers will be satisfied, leading to increased profits.
  • Employee buy-in. As with your customers, you must gain the trust of your employees by committing to them and demonstrating that daily.
  • Commitment during tough times. When employees are loyal, they are willing to stay through the problems and work harder to get the company back to normal.
  • Promote from within. Opportunities for advancement are one of the key indicators of employee happiness. Plus, the time required to adjust to a company’s culture and ideals is minimal.

Successful companies know creating a thriving business starts with dedicated employees who believe in their organizations. There are three factors that influence the employee experience:

  1. Physical work environment
  2. Employer support and tools
  3. Company’s interest in employees’ success and well-being

If you say your employees are valued, but their workspace is dirty, cluttered, and dark, their equipment is outdated, and there is no opportunity for growth, be prepared for an exodus. If the idea of high turnover makes you shudder, start now by:

  • Opening conversations. Ask employees what they like and don’t like about working for the company, and what they would do to improve things.
  • Demonstrate trust. Involve employees in decision-making, give flexibility and autonomy, and let them know they are heard and their opinions matter.
  • Be authentic. Be sincere in wanting to change how things are done, then do it. Be transparent with communication.

You get back what you put in, and if your employees have not been treated like your best customers, you may see that in your bottom-line results. In the words of Simon Sinek, author and organizational consultant, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Start that love affair today.

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