“Work is theatre, and every business a stage”.
With a touch of Shakespearean word play, Joseph Pine and James Gilmore coined the phrase that christened the Experience Economy.
In equally theatrical tone, the Harvard Business Review eloquently describes the business mechanisms of the Experience Economy – “a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event”….an experience.
Traditional view is customers first..
The core idea in the experience economy that businesses really engage with customers by creating memorable experiences – forging a deeper relationship with them. This deep relation is truly mutual; giving value to them and to your business. It is this value that will keep customers coming back.
But how do we create that engagement in the first place?
For most of us, deep relations through engagement with customers don’t come about organically; they don’t just happen. And whilst we might all know a great “engager” – the natural charm, that way with words, or that instant connection instinct – it’s not as easy for us relationship grafters.
Don’t worry though, one way that we are seeing companies successfully engage with their customers is by turning the focus to their employees first. It seems counterintuitive but there is some logic to it.
We can visualise the forces at work here through what I call the Experience Cycle.
The cycle starts and ends with experiences, at the one end you have employees and the other end you have customers.
- Start with your employee’s experiences.
- Addressing these experiences coincides with a great company culture.
- Great company culture in turn has a massive impact on your customer’s experiences.
Yes it’s fairly formulaic, but if we unpick the notion of employee experience a bit, we see some truly human foundations that can be built upon throughout this cycle, right through to the juicy value endpoint – customer experience.
Put your employees first
As Forbes columnist Coleen Reilly comments, the employee experience is “everything an employee sees, feels, observes and experiences throughout their journey at an organization. This includes culture, the technology, and the environment.”
The performance metrics justify this employee centric approach. According to Accenture, employers with a great employee experience outperform the S&P 500 Index by 122%.
If we consider something like good “job satisfaction” as a strong indicator of a good employee experience then company culture and employee experience clearly go hand in hand. According to the Mission & Culture Survey 2019, 56% of those looking for jobs consider company culture to be “more important than salary” when thinking about job satisfaction.
Company culture is reflected in customer experience
Squarespace, the New York based SaaS website builder, has a “flat, open and creative” culture where they avoid layers of management that instills a sense of empowerment to each employee, but equally hinges on “down to earth leaders”.
Here is a great example of culture translating to the customer experience, with superstar Keanu Reeves commenting on the service in a way that typifies the experience economy: “it’s like riding a motorcycle, there’s something about Squarespace that’s really accessible yet sophisticated”.
The end point…valuable experience for customers
Central to the experience economy mechanism is the idea that there is real value in customer’s experiences. Whilst the value of the customers is ultimately what matters for businesses, if we unpick the experience cycle that starts with employees and ends with great customer experience, we see the real value lies at the beginning of this journey.
Inspired by Alexandra Isenegger, Linkilaw’s CEO, our company culture is one that is deeply rooted in the idea of “mindful work”. We strive to take care of ourselves by being honest with our bodies and our capacities – both in and out of the work space. This approach to employee experience has lead to a culture where meaningful, focussed and transparent collaboration with our co-workers are the daily buzzwords.
These interconnective forces are reflected in the experience we provide for our clients; working alongside them to find valuable solutions as fellow entrepreneurs in a way that is open and focussed.