One of the most important foundational concepts, as well as linkages, when it comes to customer experience is the employee experience connection, i.e., the fact that the employee experience drives the customer experience. Without employees to design, build, sell, deliver, implement, install, or service the products, you have no need for customers – and then there’s no customer experience. They are critical to building that experience – and to delivering it.

I’ve written and spoken about that connection many times over the years, including:

It’s a foundational principle – and hence a chapter in my book Built to Win – to being a customer-centric organization. Employees must come more first.

Connection Understanding Is Lacking

Why then do so many leaders not get that connection?

A 2022 Columbia Business School study (text analysis of earnings calls) found that executives talk about customers 10 times more often than employees. And when they do, executives perceive customers to be analogous to opportunities and employees to risks. Wow. And ouch.

But, in a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Survey, 55% of executives said they believe it is impossible to provide a great customer experience without providing a great employee experience. Actions often speak louder than words, though: only 22% of those surveyed are making employee experience a top-five priority for investment.

That falls in line with what I wrote about back a couple years ago:

Employee Experience is a Priority, But…

According to the Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends Report, 80 percent of executives rated employee experience as very important, but only 22 percent said their companies excelled at designing and delivering the experience.

So, my next question then is: Why are there so few organizations with customer experience and employee experience teams working together? Better yet, why are there so few organizations with employee experience teams?! (The above stats probably answer those questions.) Every organization should! And they should be working hand in hand with the customer experience team.


Bridging the gap between Employee Experience and Customer Experience teams can be highly beneficial for creating a cohesive and aligned organizational culture focused on both internal and external stakeholders. I’m hoping that talking about this will inspire some CX professionals (and others) to push for employee experience teams in their organizations! (Fingers crossed.)

How do we get these two teams talking to each other and working together? What conversations should they be having? (And will these conversations help to create a better understanding for why both teams are needed within every company!)

Shared Goals and Objectives
  • “How can we align our goals to ensure both employee and customer satisfaction?”
  • “What are the common objectives we can work toward together?”
Understanding Impact
  • “How does employee experience impact customer experience, and vice versa?”
  • “How does each team directly and/or indirectly impact the customer experience, and how can we optimize the the employee experience to deliver the best customer experience?”
Feedback Loop
  • “How can we ensure that insights from employee feedback are utilized to enhance the customer experience – and vice versa?”
  • “What mechanisms can we put in place for continuous communication and feedback exchange between our teams?”
Training and Development
  • “Are there opportunities for cross-training or knowledge-sharing between our teams to better understand each other’s perspectives?”
  • “How can we leverage employee training programs to improve customer service skills and identify how each employee affects the customer experience?”
Culture and Values
  • “How do our organizational values influence or drive both employee and customer interactions?”
  • “Do our core values espouse the type of culture that we are trying to create, i.e., a customer-centric one?”
  • “In what ways can we reinforce a culture of empathy and understanding across our teams?”
Innovation and Collaboration
  • “What innovative approaches can we explore together to enhance both employee and customer experiences?”
  • “How can we collaborate on projects that benefit both internal culture and external customer satisfaction?”
Data and Analytics
  • “What data points are crucial for both employee and customer experience teams, and how can we leverage them collectively?”
  • “How can we use analytics to identify areas of improvement in both employee and customer journeys?”
Celebrating Successes
  • “Can we highlight success stories where improvements in employee experience directly translated into better customer satisfaction, and vice versa?”
  • “How can we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of both teams collaboratively?”
Long-Term Vision
  • “What are the vision statements for both the employee experience and the customer experience, and how can we work together to ensure we achieve both.”
  • “How can we ensure that our collaboration evolves and remains effective in the long term?”
Employee-Centric Approach
  • “How can we ensure that our customer-centric approach prioritizes employee well-being and satisfaction? (See Built to Win.)”
  • “In what ways can we empower employees to deliver exceptional customer experiences?”
Brand Alignment
  • “How does our internal culture align with our external brand image, and how can we strengthen this alignment?”
  • “What actions can we take to ensure that employees embody our brand values in their interactions with customers?”
Crisis Management
  • “During times of crisis or rapid change, how can our teams support each other to maintain positive employee morale and customer satisfaction?”
  • “What contingency plans can we develop collaboratively to address unexpected challenges impacting both employee and customer experiences?”
Technology Integration
  • “How can technology solutions enhance both employee productivity and the customer experience?”
  • “Are there digital tools or platforms that can streamline communication and collaboration between our teams?”
Learning from Mistakes
  • “Can we identify past instances where disconnects between employee and customer experiences occurred, and what lessons can we learn from them?”
  • “How can we establish a culture of continuous improvement where feedback from both employees and customers informs our decision-making process?”
Industry Benchmarking
  • “What best practices can we learn from other organizations that have successfully integrated employee and customer experience strategies?”
  • “How can industry benchmarks and trends guide our collaborative efforts to stay ahead of the curve?”
Executive Sponsorship
  • “How can senior leadership demonstrate their support for collaboration between our teams?”
  • “What resources (financial, human, capital, technological) can executive sponsors allocate to support our joint initiatives?”
  • “How can we present a compelling business case to executives to secure the necessary resources?”
  • “How can executives help align our initiatives with the overall strategic goals of the organization?”
  • “What specific metrics or KPIs can executives track to ensure our collaborative efforts are contributing to organizational success?”

I cannot reiterate enough how important the connection is between employee experience and customer experience – and the corresponding collaboration between employee experience teams and customer experience teams.

One of the ways to help ensure that these teams work together is establishing governance for your customer experience work. The structure part of it will include various levels of sponsorship and collaboration, while the operating model portion will outline the people, tools, data, and processes required to execute on your design work. You’ll see very clearly the importance of these two teams working together!

If the employees come first, then they’re happy. A happy employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy, so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It’s not one of the enduring green mysteries of all time, it’s just the way it works. ~ Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines


Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2022, she published her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business [Advantage|ForbesBooks], which is available to purchase on Amazon, Books A Million!, Target, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other outlets around the world! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your EX and CX game.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.