PharaohMany customer experience practitioners stress the importance of employee participation in companies’ customer-centricity efforts. Intuitively, it is hard to disagree with the anecdotes they tell and conclusions they draw from these stories. There are numerous studies that attempt to connect employee engagement with various business goals, but I could not find any that link it directly with customer experience. If you know of any such studies, please share them with me.

It’s important to point out that employee engagement, defined as “the emotional commitment one has to their organization and its goals”, is very different from employee satisfaction or experience. An employee can be very engaged even without being satisfied with her working conditions, and vice versa. I would like to pose that in the long term an employee is not very likely to sustain his emotional engagement without the consistent commitment of the company to improve his experience working there.

Since both customer experience and customer engagement are very subjective perceptions any attempt to measure either one presents methodological challenges. Every one of such attempt usually attracts very vocal supporters and detractors. Based on conviction that human perceptions are best described by stories, we aggregated and mined the stories of McDonald’s restaurant employees shared by them online (3,327) and the reviews of its customers (4,412). The Opinion Miner algorithms discovered patterns in these “stories” and measured frequency with which these patterns observed as well as a collective sentiment associated with each one. While such analysis can be much more detailed, for this article we decided to focus only on the most frequently observed patterns.

While McDonald’s employees, who shared their stories, are quite satisfied with their benefits, learning experience and training, they don’t perceive their work environment positively. You can see the chart below. The size of the bars represent the intensity of a sentiment expressed. MCD Emp chart Even though the majority of employees who shared their story online are disheartened by their pay rate, this comes seventh in terms of its importance to them. The most important signal, from the perspective of this inquiry, is a negative sentiment toward customers that comes through the employees’ descriptions of their relationship with their company. It is hardly a surprise that customers reflect this attitude in their assessment of McDonald’s customer service (-4%) as it is seen on the chart below. MCD Cust chart

Despite relatively positive assessment of food, ambiance and cleanliness customers don’t think that McDonalds offers them a “good value”. The price matters less when you are served with disdain. Restaurants are not in a food business-they are in the hospitality business and unengaged employees do not seem to be very gracious hosts.

This is just one, randomly selected, example. However, the result suggests that companies serious about improvement of experience for their customers have to pay closer attention to measuring and monitoring the satisfaction of their employees.