We know the importance of customer experience. Whether it’s their buying experience or their experience in implementing or using our solutions, customer experience is key to our success. It’s what causes them to buy, repurchase, and recommend.

Billions are being invested in customer experience. Whether it’s improving our products and services, improving their digital experience, improving their buying experience; investments in customer experience are increasing. No one would ever argue that customer experience is unimportant or irrelevant to acquiring, retaining, and growing our customers.

But there’s an aspect of customer experience that doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention, yet it is probably fundamental to creating great customer experience.

That missing key is creating great work/employee experience. Gallup data shows only 15% of employees, globally, are engaged in the workplace.

It’s our people who, directly or indirectly, are responsible for creating great customer experience. But how can we ever create great customer experience from employees that are completely disengaged?

Stated differently, if we have unhappy, disengaged people responsible for customer experience, what kind of experience will our customers get? Where will they get the sense that we care about them, if our people don’t think their work matters? How will our customers see that we value them, when our people don’t think they are valued?

Isn’t it time to start paying attention to creating great employee experiences–not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it just makes business sense?

Unfortunately, too much attention is spent on creating “faux employee experiences.” Free food, massages, fitness centers, Friday celebrations, and so forth are mistaken for creating great workplaces. Sure there is a temporary impact, but it’s like a sugar high, it quickly wears off.

People are looking for great work experiences, this means doing work that matters, that is meaningful. They are looking for work where they are listened to, where they can contribute. They want to know they are valued, they are being developed, not just to do their task, but they are developing and growing in their career. They want to learn, develop, they seek coaching, support. They want to be challenged. They want to know that they matter!

Unfortunately, too many workplaces are just the opposite. People have become commoditized, replaceable widgets. “Hit your numbers, or I’ll find someone who will.” “Follow this script, we don’t pay you to think!”

The data is overwhelming. In the last 5 years, numbers on turnover–voluntary and involuntary–have skyrocketed. Recent, data show average sales and sales management tenure approaching 18 months. Skim through the LinkedIn profiles of your connections, look at the number of jobs, the number of different companies they have worked for. I have to admit, I’m often astounded when I talk to a person who says, “I’ve been here for 5, 10, 15 years.”

Customer experience is critical to our success with our customers. If we want to create great customer experiences, perhaps the starting point is to create great work experiences for our people. Through them, we will create greater customer experiences.