Experience is everything in today’s economy – managing and measuring every interaction of customers with our brand, as well as optimising the employee experience. As the saying goes – happy employees, happy customers.

For years, I’ve been passionate on the importance of creating amazing customer experiences – working with companies to understand and innovate for their customers, to create engaging employee experiences. The desired outcome has been delivering experience for the customer, placing primary responsibility on the company and employees.

But, in these unprecedented times, I’ve reconsidered my position.

With our world fundamentally changed and society needing to pull together more than ever before, perhaps it’s time to re-consider the responsibility for creating experience.

Disruption of the traditional customer/employee experience
The connection between employee and customer experience is well documented; a 2019 Glassdoor study showed that a 1-point increase in employee satisfaction resulted in a 1.3-point improvement in customer satisfaction. (As an aside, SAP was the only company in the world to be on all 5 of the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Best Places to Work 2019 country lists! #LifeatSAP)

On the flip side of the relationship, employees are also happier when working with happy customers. Makes sense; after all, it can’t be fun dealing with complaints all day.

Recent events have disrupted this relationship, particularly in the retail and service industries. Customers, faced with uncertainty and fearful, have been behaving differently, even irrationally, creating shopping environments of high anxiety. Employees, also uncertain and fearful citizens, have been ill equipped to deal with this intense emotional response.

Real-time co-creation, in the real world
Technology, particularly social media and mobile apps, have empowered savvy consumers to engage with brands at entirely new levels, providing instant feedback and insights, generating content and brand ambassadors.

Beyond “consuming” the service, consumers increasingly embrace being able to co-create their experience through technology platforms, defining and interacting in the experience.

Unfortunately, consumers’ enthusiasm for positive, virtual co-creation of customer experience has not withstood the impact of real-world events.

So who is responsible for creating positive experiences?
Feeling anxiety, dread and a distinctly unsafe feeling, I walked into my local supermarket recently. A young grocery assistant was unpacking the fresh produce, looking equally stressed and apprehensive.

Quite simply, I asked him how he was doing. He looked surprised, then smiled and nodded ‘Bit better today!’. We both smiled and chatted like normal people about the tomatoes. (I even got a heads-up that a delivery of toilet paper had just arrived. Just shows what being kind gets you…)

As I made my way around the store, I hummed along to the muzak, smiled and give big ‘thanks’ to the supermarket team members. Other shoppers were staring at me, glaring at the empty shelves and snapping at the service staff.

I left the supermarket feeling positive, surprised myself by having a good shopping experience, and hopefully made a few supermarket employees smile as well.

My real world, supermarket customer experience has made me reconsider the responsibility that I, as a consumer, need to take for my own customer experience (CX). Not just a playful participation in the virtual, but in my real-world interactions.

Further, my responsibility as a customer to creating a positive employees’ experience.

Ready to take on the DIY experience responsibility?
An experience is a two-way exchange. As customers in these difficult times, we can (and should) start a positive experience cycle by contributing to the employee experience.

The inspiring scenes from around the world of citizens’ nightly applause for healthcare workers is a great example of customers giving back, of creating a great employee experience.

Unprecedented times call for disruption of our normal approaches; as customers, let’s turn the tables, take back responsibility for creating our own experience and, in doing so, give a great employee experience.

This article originally published on Linkedin