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Introducing the Employee Effort Score (EES)

How your employees perform daily, directly affects your customer experience. The more engaged employees are, the happier they will be to deliver a good experience to customers.
Vincent Defour

A while ago during a round table with Belgian leading customer experience experts, a colleague of mine dropped the following line: “Treat employees better than customers and focus on employee centricity”.
I looked around the table and all I could see where faces expressing “What?!?”
Isn’t that sacrilegious in a customer-centric era? There’s a huge debate in life: what came first, the chicken or the egg? In business, the debate is: who comes first, the customer or the employee?

Customer advocacy is a hot topic these days in the boardroom, focusing a lot on the topic in our projects and installing customer advocacy frameworks to improve on the results from NPS etc got us thinking about the effect between employees and customers. What about employee centricity? What about employee engagement?
Designing customer experiences requires you to understand the challenges that must be overcome to meet both your customers’ needs, as well as overcoming the challenges of your employees to deliver the experience.
After all: businesses do not innovate or service, your people do! From sales to operations and support, everyone is responsible for their own little part in the overall customer journey. How your employees perform daily, directly affects your customer experience. The more engaged employees are, the happier they will be to deliver a good experience to customers.

Given the importance of employee engagement and its long-term effects, can we measure it, like we do with customer engagement using metrics like CSAT, NPS and CES and keep track of your engagement initiatives?
Most importantly: should we measure it? Our opinion: Measure employee engagement just like customer engagement and link the metrics.
There are tons of material out there to explain customer metrics, such as the blog we wrote about eNPS and the link with NPS ..
Now let’s see if we can apply the same thinking to CES (customer effort score)  vs employee effort score or what you could call EES.

The Employee Effort Score (EES)

You know CES? The metric called customer effort score, next to NPS and CSAT, this is a metric gaining a lot of interest in organizations. It measures how much effort a customer is required to put forth in order to complete some task with an organization, whether it’s to buy a product, to get an issue resolved, or to do something else.

If you’re not familiar with CES, it’s a metric created by CEB (now Gartner ), based on the following questions, using a 7-point verbal scale :very difficult (1) to very easy (7):

  • The company made it easy for me to handle my issue.
  • It took less time than I expected to handle this issue.

Through their research, CEB discovered that service interactions are four times more likely to create disloyal customers than loyal customers. From our experiences we can surely relate to this. Customer retention is directly linked to the service or lack of service the organization can provide.

Creating an employee experience is the first step towards delivering a customer experience that is both profitable and sustainable. 1 of the main pillars defining employee experience is the effort they need to put in.

Im not talking about the effort that the employee puts into his or her work every day. I’m referring to the effort it takes for the employee to do his job, i.e., are there processes or tools that hinder their ability to do their jobs in an efficient manner?

In my customer experience projects, I’m usually also asking these type of questions:

  • How can we make it easier for employees to do what we ask them to do?
  • What’s keeping employees from delivering the great experience that your customers deserve?
  • How can we simplify workflows and processes?
  • How can we become easier to do business with – internally?
  • What complexities, organization structures, complications, and bureaucracy do we need to optimize or even remove?
  • How do we reduce effort for employees and then, ultimately, for customers?

When we make it difficult for employees to do their jobs, it translates to the experience they deliver for their customers. Even if the task the employee is trying to do is not directly related to a customer and his experience, the frustration that effort evokes will manifest itself in the employee-customer experience somehow.

Why aren’t we measuring and understanding the employee effort like we do with CES? We should ask employees a variation of the CES questions:

To what extent do you agree with the following statement:

  • The company made it easy for me deliver the desired customer experience
  • The company made it easy to perform my daily tasks.
  • the company made it easy for me to help my customers

We should leave some sort of comment field on top and perform text mining and sentiment analysis on it to get insights in comments.

So this is what we would call the Employee Effort Score ( EES). It’s a metric used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of employees executing their job.

While typical employee engagement surveys measure a general level of satisfaction, there’s no further definition of “satisfaction”.

And while Employee net promoter score (eNPS) clearly focuses on building a group of positively tuned promoters (promoting the company as a great company to work for, or promoting its products and services)within the organization. Neither of these two metrics provides accurate insight into a service or process shortcomings.

EES instantly incorporates employees’ feedback into the process of continuous improvement. Any EES feedback directly refers to a specific process or customer interaction which, for whatever reason, may or may not match individual employee’ expectations.

It measures how easy it is for an employee to do their work accordingly, efficiently and autonomously.

The underlying principle is that employees will be more engaged, when they can do their job more efficient and productive, focusing on real customer added value taks.

Off course employee engagement is not exclusively linked to employee effort.

We believe a combination of eES, eNPS system makes the HUMAN-side of your business more transparent.  Make it a part of an ongoing operating system. Only in this way you have a comprehensive actionable set of insights to drive continuous improvement programs.

Thanks for reading

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Vincent Defour

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