Enhancing Service Experience Through Understanding Employee Experience Management
Employees can improve & enhance the essence of service, since they play significant role in delivering what scholars call ''customer''s experience''. Employee experience is crucial in remitting right brand experience, enhancing the core service quality, & continuous innovation. This article aims to clarify employee ? as an internal customer ? experiences firm offerings in the same way as customers do. It observed how firms can motivate employees to delivering the right brand experience, through enhancing value added offerings to employees. Additionally, firm is responsible to answer employee''s desires in terms of rational, emotional, social, sensorial, and practical needs. As long as Customer Experience Management is responsible for enriching customers'' life, firm is also liable to improve employees'' life ? at least in workplace. Findings confirm that, in service industry, in order to offer better solutions to customers, firms strongly rely on employees because of maximum interaction with customers & reasonable familiarity with their expectation. This article, conceptualize employee-experience as what employee received during their interaction with careers'' elements that affect their cognition and affection & leads to the particular behaviors. Thus, it can be summarize that Employees Experience Management is an approach to deliver excellent experience to employee, which leads to the positive customer experience by emphasizing on their experiential needs.An Introduction to ''Customer Experience Management''
Scholars believe that the concept of experience applies to the both external and internal customers (e.g. O''loughin & Szmigin, 2005; Schmitt, 2003). Thereby ? in context of customer experience ? firms are liable internally to their employees as they are responsible to customers. On the other hand, it makes sense to claim employees same as customers, experience firm, brand and internal interactions, which trigger their feelings (O''loughin & Szmigin, 2005). Besides, employees'' behaviors largely reflect their experience with firms (Schembri, 2006). At this standpoint, this paper suggests Employee Experience Management (EEM) not only as an antecedent to enhance customer experience, but also as an approach for engaging employees rationally as well as emotionally. Furthermore, in respect of employees'' role in Customer Experience Management (CEM), this article attempt to shed light on some possible approaches to manage employee experience.
The ultimate goal of CEM is to facilitate delivering the right set of experience cues for evoking specific feelings and shaping customers future decision-making process (Berry & Carbone, 2007). Definition by Mascarenhas, Kesavan, and Bernacchi (2006) poses that CEM is a discipline to manage physical and emotional customer experience to deliver positive, engaging, enduring, and socially fulfilling experience across all active major levels of one''s consumption chain. In the context of CEM, the customer experience initiates from an experiential offering or a set of provoking interactions between firms (products, services, employees, or environment) and customer that follows by particular reaction (Millard, 2006). Similarly, Meyer and Schwager (2007) characterized customer experience as an internal and subjective response based on any direct or indirect contact. As a result, customer interaction is a determinative component for customer experience and CEM would be successful if it offers positive experience during entire interactions. In service, these interactions particularly associate with employees as a vital interface, who play significant role in convening positive experience to customers (Harris, Harris, & Baron, 2003; Meyer & Schwager, 2007; Millard, 2006; Morrison & Crane, 2007; Pullman & Gross, 2003; Rahman, 2005).
Addressing the Problem
Employees are crucial elements in CEM strategy since they are part of the customer experience. Some practitioners go further and posed employee is the first important antecedents for CEM. For instance, 82% of high-preference-brands (among prosperous service firms in US) considered employees'' behavior as the first and the main success factors (Berry & Lampo, 2004). Pragmatic studies confirmed the role of employees in customer interactions. For instance, 70% of brand perception is settled by employees and 41% of customer loyalty comes from positive employee attitude (IBM Business Consulting Services, 2005). Nevertheless, scholars unfortunately have not carried out sufficient and remarkable studies thus far. In practice, the subject matter face same story, which give an account of fails in empowering employees as well as lot of problems and mistakes in engaging them. However, employees are significant interface in delivering positive service experience; service providers such as airlines and hotels face too many difficulties to engage and motivate them especially for frontline. For instance, according the joined research by SRi and Jack Morton in 2006, only 33% of employees are enough engaged to inspire customers. Similarly, according to recent Gallup survey, only 25% of employee actively engaged in their job (Schmitt, 2003). Another study by IBM shows that one of the most important barriers preventing CEM from successful implementation is insufficient employee engagement (20%) (IBM Business Consulting Services, 2005). Clearly, these facts address the importance of employee experience and confirm modern marketing practices should value employee more.
Service Experience and the Role of Employee
It is necessary to portray service experience before talking about employee experience in service context. In black and white, Odgers (2004) conceptualized the source of service experience in terms of what customer feel, what customer received from brand, employee, environment, and interactions. Here, it is argued how employees shape service experience, correspondingly, how firms form employee experience, and finally how firms can manage the relationship between these two experiences to differentiate the offerings.
Experience can be triggered, altered, affected, or became memorable by some cues. Scholars simply consider these cues as experience clues. Clues can work as stimuli and shape customer internal and external experience. Among different types of clue, employees behaviors and characteristic associates with humanic clues (Berry & Carbone, 2007; Berry, Carbone, & Haeckel, 2002; Berry, Wall, & Carbone, 2006). In service, humanic clues during interaction provide influential clues in shaping customers'' perceptions (Wall & Berry, 2007) and intensify service brand through service experience (Berry & Lampo, 2004). Employee behaviors also play key part in cultivating emotional connectivity (Berry & Carbone, 2007). On the other hand, Wall and Berry (2007) argued that humanic clues are the direct reflection of service performance. Likewise, Dawes and Rowley (1996) argued that service could add value by focusing on the service delivery through employees. Thus, it can be concluded employees must be considered as a determinative element in delivering excellent service. In other words, firms are responsible to pay careful attention to their employees to deliver excellent service experience through entire interactions (O''loughin & Szmigin, 2005). Alternatively, employees as the most tangible interface have maximum interaction with customers and most familiarity with their expectation. They contribute in understanding customers'' experiential needs, designing, or creating experience and convening experience. For that reasons, firms to offer better solutions to customers typically rely on employees.
In actuality, service providers depend on employees to engage customer. In fact, engaging customers by personal and lasting human-interaction establishes emotional connectivity and results respect, esteem, trust, and loyalty (Berry et al, 2006). Additionally, service employee can be a solution to recover many service failures. In light of that, humanic clues can dominate many fails in mechanic clues by engaging customer emotionally (e.g. sympathy) or cognitively (e.g. providing information) (Wall, 2003). In contrast, bad humanic clues cannot be recovered by merely mechanic clues (Berry et al, 2006).
Employee Experience Management
In essence, scholars emphasized on starting the marketing from employees; they argued it is the fundamental task to enhance quality of service (Poon & Low, 2005). Additionally, it seems providing positive experience for employees through improving the training programs, internal branding, and communication has tide relationship with external marketing activities and experience clues (O''loughin & Szmigin, 2005). Contradictory, marketing practitioners in service industry widely ignore ? for example ? internal marketing initiatives (Ballantyne, 2000; Gilmore & Carson, 1996). In line with CEM, managing employee experience can be a solution to answer employees'' needs, as the internal customer. Firms have to "engage not only the body of employee but also their soul and mind" (Schmitt, 2003, p.226). As long as CEM is responsible for enriching customers'' life during all interaction, firm is also liable to improve employees'' life ? at least in workplace. Engaging employee with positive experience is the proper step toward achieving this goal.
Before defining employee experience, it is necessary to review the notion of employee experience per se. In reference to general meaning, experience intends that active involvement in an activity or exposure to events or people over a period of time that influences both thoughts and feelings and leads to knowledge or skill acquisition. Besides, it is possible to utilize customer experience to complete this view as long as firms are willing to treat employee as an internal customer. Gentile, Spiller, and Noci (2007) and Schmitt (2003) noted that, positive experience triggers senses, emotions, thoughts, acts, values, and relations in various manners or alternatively, anything else that provide value during interaction.
Along with the notion of experience, employee experience can be defined as what employee received during their interaction with careers'' elements (e.g. firms, supervisors, coworkers, customer, environment, etc.) that affect their cognition (rational acquisition) and affection (internal and personal acquisition) and leads to their particular behaviors. Thus, EEM can be conceptualize as an approach to deliver excellent experience to employee, which leads to the positive customer experience by emphasizing on their experiential needs. In summary, EEM is an internal approach by focusing on employee prior to customer.
Indeed, the notion of EEM come from the question that how firms make sure that employee create the desirable customer experience, whenever they interact with customer or provide the information and service to them (Schmitt, 2003). Alternatively, utilizing employee in delivering brand value promise is remarkable concern in EEM. EEM also goes beyond standard human-resource management by rewarding more employee-experience in form of both professional and personal development (Schmitt, 2003).
Great customer experiences are enabled through empathetic people who are happy and fulfilled (Shaw & Ivens, 2002). In order to achieve this position, literature suggests some practices that can be considered as EEM construct. Managing employee experience associates with job design in experience economy. In line with Barlow and Maul (2000), firm can turn employee routine into positive experience by rewards and recognition, respect for employees, fair compensation, variety, and challenging growth. However, firms have to nominate some practices in form of seamless discipline, which go beyond the pure job design. For example, they can study how job elements can emotionally engage customers.
If organizations do not meet emotional desires, they will lose both employees and customer. The saying "customer service is eighty per cent will and twenty per cent skill " demonstrate that providing satisfactory and engaging experiences for employee are more likely to be productive instead pure training without presence of their heart (Barlow & Maul, 2000, p. 227). Engaging employees emotionally during their works is a vital element in shaping positive experience (Freedman & Edwards, 1988). Clearly, highly motivated and engaged employees can create memorable customer experiences (Millard, 2006). During service, employees essentially answer customers'' problems, share emotions, and improve the customer''s experience (Caru & Cova, 2003). If they are emotionally attached to firm and brand, they convey their personal feeling through interaction to customers.
Employees with emotional bond with brand affect customers by positive view of the brand. In other words, the bond between brand and employee not only leads to employee loyalty but also encourage them to promote brand image, intensify brand perception and enhance brand loyalty. Venkat (2005) highlighted the necessity of internally communing the brand identity, brand promise and brand position. For instance, senior managers can motivate and engage employees by crystallizing the employees'' role in delivering brand promise. Firms have to ensure brand values are consistent with organizational values and respectively employees are trained, motivated, and empowered to live the brand (Venkat, 2005).
Engaging customer emotionally has direct relationship with motivation as well. Motivation is essential since motivated employees automatically generate memorable interaction for customer (Millard, 2006), which hardly ever is created by passive employees. In general, employees are motivated when they are enthusiastic about their tasks. This motivation can create challenging environment or incentive system; regardless the source, it is infectious and motivate entire organization (Shaw & Ivens, 2002). It is also notable, the prominence of motivation is to release employees'' capability and uncover their competency. After enough motivation, firms can move on engaging employees in creativity.
The literature suggest that, engagement in creativity with proper support is another practice to manage employee experience (Baer & Oldham, 2006; Madjar, Oldham, & Pratt, 2002; Tierney & Farmer, 2004; Zhou & Shalley, 2003). In fact, employee creativity makes an important contribution to innovation and competitiveness (Nonaka, 1991); hence the circumstance that leads to such behavior is substantial (Baer & Oldham, 2006). Amabile (1996) defined creativity as the production of ideas about products, service, or processes, which not only must be novel, but potentially useful to the organization (Baer & Oldham, 2006). Given the definition, the setting with great chance of exploration and experimentation of a novel idea (or approaches) can cause notable creativity among employees (Zhou & Shalley, 2003). Classically, firms are responsible to furnish employee experience through encouraging, assisting, supporting, and valuing creativity (Baer & Oldham, 2006; Tierney & Farmer, 2004). Regarding new process, employee participation to improve service experience is another dimension of engaging employees in creativity (Tseng et al., 1999). Employee engagement in creativity program correspondingly follows the notion of employee engagement. This elucidation agrees with earlier researches that illustrated engaged employees are more likely to commit in creativity program, which leads to sustain firm''s outcomes and accordingly customer perception (Freedman & Edwards, 1988).
Support is another remarkable driver for engaging employee. As Freemantle (2003, p.138) informally stated, "It is unreasonable to expect an employee to care for a customer, if the boss is not perceived as caring for the employee". Support ? whether from direct supervisors or coworkers ? may facilitate employee engagement in their works. Managing change across the organization without employees'' support as well as supporting employee to change is meaningless. This support also may encourage employees to be more creative and help them to come up with new solutions for customer (Baer & Oldham, 2006; Madjar, Oldham, & Pratt, 2002). One form of support can interpreted as empowering. Empowering employee ? for instance in handling customer complaints ? besides enhance customer experience, create positive feeling for employees (Barlow & Maul, 2000). Therefore, this kind of support gives employee responsibility as well as authority and creates four types of control - - behavioral, cognitive, decisional, and emotional (Barlow & Maul, 2000). The sense of control psychologically answers employees'' internal needs and emotionally engages them. As a result, it is reasonable to consider support and empowerment as an antecedent for EEM.
Customer experience improved and sustained by well-trained employee (Thompson, 2006). Training helps employees to understand how customer experiences the service and consequently facilitates experience improvement through humanic clues (e.g. Berry et al., 2006; Tseng et al., 1999). Beyond classic training, employees should understand the brand promises and offering values as well as organization''s core values. They also need to understand their role in convening these promises and values. Considerably, training without motivation is worthless. On the other hand, training, which follows by empowering employees, is critical for CEM success (Shaw & Ivens, 2002). If training leads to employees'' competency, it can be a dominant initiator of service experience excellence as well (Berry et al., 2006). Additionally, it is rational to mention training as a driver of innovation in organization and an essential step to orchestrate employees'' creativity in effective way.
The literature also recognizes the importance of employee experiential needs. In reality, firms ought to figure out employees'' needs ? especially their experiential desires (Schmitt, 2003), since they cannot offer outstanding experience to their employee unless they become familiar with the entire experiential needs. Besides, experiential marketing recommends engaging customers in sense, feel, think, act, and relate, to deliver excellent brand experience. By applying the notion of experiential marketing to employees, emotional experiences can engage employees by affection and subjective feeling. Correpondingly, rational experiences refer to creative and cognitive experience. Sensorial experiences involving sensory perception engage employee through five senses. Pragmatic experiences address physical behavior, individual actions or alternative work-style as well as lifestyle; finally relate experiences (social experiences) result from connecting with a reference group (under corporation name) or organizational culture. In line with internal branding, these dimensions positively create overall brand experience for employees. For instance, delighting employees with pleasant workplace, adding reasonable fun, add challenge to the routines, and granting memorable events are some simple examples to answer experiential employees'' desire.
Moreover, treating employee by concerning their experiential needs internally shapes their perception of the brand. Employee behavior is the reflection from perception and it is an underpinning for shaping overall brand experience in interaction with customer. As long as brand has meaning for employees and they live brand in their day-to-day personal as well as professional life, they can convey positive experience to customers (Schmitt, 2003). This fact encourages firms to empower employees to deliver the brand promise and positive experience (O''loughin & Szmigin, 2005). Firms thus have to accomplish brand promise (e.g. experiential value proposition) to employee (Venkat, 2005). For instant, if a brand offers alternative lifestyle to its customer, it should provide innovative work-style. Additionally, firms have to invest on employee feedback- monitoring to recognize their employees'' experiential needs and design suitable experiences (Berry et al., 2006).
Finally, to enrich employee experience, firms can consider providing effective interface and interaction for them (Schmitt, 2003). Proper interface facilitate employee relationship and internal communication, which determinative factors in shaping employee overall experience. Hence, EEM aims to offers branded interface and interactive touchpoints (stylish as well as flexible) for employees to empower internal relationship. In order to align different functional departments in organization, inter-functional relationship can generate positive experience as well. What''s more, flexibility in interaction helps employee to convey service experience smoothly (Banducci & Keneally, 2001). Besides, recruiting employees with high social skill and particularly with high emotional intelligence can enhance and improve internal interaction more effectively (Shaw & Ivens, 2002).
CEM pragmatically is characterized by the notion of customer experience, which is based on any direct or indirect contacts with a brand (Meyer & Schwager, 2007). Consequently, managing entire experience in integrated fashion to deliver excellent experience through all touchpoints - direct or indirect contact - can be called CEM (Schmitt, 2003). Particularly in service experience, employee is one of the crucial touchpoints. Employees'' behaviors, on one hand shape customer overall experience and on the other hand reflect their overall experience with the organization (O''loughin & Szmigin, 2005). It is suggested that, employee experience is critical in driveling right brand experience, and enhancing service experience. With background in CEM, employee experience is what employee acquiesces during his or her interactions with career''s elements which influence their though and feeling. In light of that, EEM role is to deliver excellent rational as well as emotional experience to employee. The notion of EEM originated from the reality that employees experience firms'' offering in the same way as customers do. They need to be stimulated, engaged, inspired, and surprised with creative job design and working circumstance. EEM is simply about the value ? especially emotional value ? that firms should add to employee lives. Therefore, if the employees'' experiences ? for example ? include the best possible relationship, financial and emotional incentives, meaningful brand, and pleasant environment, firms can easily motivate employees to delivering the right brand experience, contributing in innovation, and enhancing the interface, especially in service context.
In addition to what EEM brings for employee, it drives CEM to achieve better results. In particular, EEM helps CEM to enhance brand experience since only employee with positive experience with brand can convey excellent service experience to customer. It can also motivate employees to engage in continuous innovation as a vital element in CEM. EEM remarkably initiates continuous innovation by encouraging creativity with sufficient support. It is also notable that positive employee experiences encourage them to involve in innovation programs that can be linked to the novel and memorable experience design. With respect to that, engaging employee in continuous innovative is the economic and trustworthy resolution. In this position, this article forwarded a proposition that EEM can assist managing customer experience in terms of brand experience and continuous innovation ? as illustrated in figure 1.
EEM is an initial step to convey right humanic clues to trigger customer emotional needs. To manage employee experience, firms can start by recruiting right employees, training, providing incentives, and motivating and continue by esteeming employees and taking on them emotionally. EEM would be completed by measuring employee behavior and monitoring their feedback. Likewise, excellent leadership, effective communication, involvement in innovation, productive inter-functional relationship, and senior management support are unsurpassed drivers to convey excellent experience to employee. EEM can enrich employees'' life by empowerment, challenging work, teamwork, communication, fun, and pleasant workplace (Schmitt, 2003). Hence, employees live more experiential and thus they are more satisfied with productive life and great motivation. All of those result in delivering great experience to customer.
Finally, to draw distinction between Human Resource Management (HRM) and EEM, this article conceptualize that HRM typically align employee behavior with firm''s mission, vision, and values that are stereotype and merely focus on broad-base organizational objective. In contrast, EEM focus on customer-centric approach to edify and encourage employee to deliver right experiences.
There are still notable gaps in crystallizing what exactly firms can achieve through practicing EEM. Besides, the EEM''s ins and outs are still ambiguous and need more investigations. Scarce empirical studies besides insufficient theoretical understanding may be the reasons behind this fact. Moreover, in spite of emphasis on employee experience, there is less attention to provide measures or suggest dimensions. It is notable that specific investigation is needed to develop a general scale for measuring each experiential component to enhance, develop, and deliver appropriate experience to employees.
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Kaveh Abhari, Norizan Mat Saad, and Mahmod Sabri Haron