• dragonfish

Improving Customer Experience through Employee Engagement

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

On Thursday 20 July, we ran our breakfast briefing on ‘Improving Customer Experience through Employee Engagement’. With over 20 attendees from a number of organisations, and a range of sectors, including BT, Fitness First, Go Ahead, and Whittard of Chelsea to name a few, we started with a review of the latest research exploring the links between employee engagement, customer experience and business performance.






The number one insight that emerged – in terms of what organisations at the top of CX league tables have, that others don’t – is a culture of putting themselves in the shoes of their customers, and seeing the world through their eyes, in other words, empathy with their customers’ needs, wants, circumstances, expectations and alternatives.


While it has been widely accepted for some time that customer empathy is important to CX success, our research also showed that empathy is the most difficult part of the CX to get right. When we asked our delegates why customer empathy is so difficult to achieve, the following points were raised:

  • When hiring and training staff, emotional maturity is not seen as a priority. As we all know, ‘Soft skills’ are indefinitely harder to provide an ROI for, therefore people who possess technical skills are usually prioritised over those who may be more capable of providing an empathetic experience.

  • In addition, empathy is something that is extremely hard to teach if it does not come naturally.

  • Processes and strategy are usually seen as the main drivers of results, so will receive greater prioritisation in both funding and focus of business strategy. Empathy is seen as too qualitative to encompass within a tangible process and is shied away from.

  • The situations where empathy is most required tend to be situations where a customer is already upset. This means that not only is it a skill required from employees in high stress situations, but it’s also a skill that customers will usually notice a lack of, rather than the presence of.

These barriers are very common for a lot of organisations, but with recent US and UK CX research from KPMG Nunwood showing that the top 25 customer experience leaders achieved almost double the % revenue growth of the top 25 fortune 500 companies, the size of the commercial prize for organisations able to get this right is huge.


In our white paper (link at the bottom of this blog) we discuss 8 top tips for improving customer experience through employee engagement, with a particular focus on how to improve customer empathy across your workforce, along with examples from other organisations.


Our breakfast briefing concluded with an insightful discussion around what has worked well for those in the room when attempting to build customer empathy in their organisations. Here are just some of the insights shared:

  • Importance needs to be placed on understanding the customers’ and needs to be consistent, and fully engrained throughout the culture for it to truly live.

  • Leadership, in particular, need to live and breathe this empathy towards consumers, and ensure that they are demonstrating and reinforcing behaviours rather than simply telling their staff to.

  • Empathy should be entwined within the strategy, which should be fully aligned. This includes tone of voice, vision, purpose, values and competencies.

  • Finally, anything you can do to make these aspects fun and relatable will lift the mood of staff, and further incentivise them to make the strategy part of their everyday language and behaviours.

For more information on how dragonfish helps organisations to improve their customer experience through employee engagement, contact Tina Hennessey on tina.hennessey@dragonfishuk.com or 023 8082 8505.