ETC is at the Heart of your Employee Experience.

A few years ago, MIT Sloan Management Review ran an article entitled Designing the Soft Side of Customer Service. In it, the authors argue that regardless of whether we are talking about a pizza delivery or a complex consulting agreement, emotions are lurking under the surface and that our job is to make those feelings positive.

If we are aiming to create the optimal customer experience, we'll need to start off by examining the kind of employee experience that's going to be the foundation of the customer experience.

A miserable employee is not going to provide your customer with a breathtakingly positive emotional experience, no matter how much you train them.

But this isn't just about the full employee journey from recruitment to exit interview. As team leaders, we need to focus on the day-to-day experience as well.

We have looked at endings, consequences and psychological safety in previous posts. In this blog post, let’s take a look at what else we can learn from the field of behavioral science that can help us understand what drives a great employee or customer experience.

You need to focus on the ETCs.

Emotions (E) influence what we remember. Emotionally charged episodes are easy to recall. Experiences that triggered no emotional reaction—positive or negative—are quickly forgotten.

Basically, our emotions are triggered when something turns out better or worse than we expected. The corresponding emotional response is then either positive or negative. Great team leaders do their best to manage the emotions of their team—and sprinkle the day with a few unexpected positive surprises as well. Positive surprises are anything from throwing a pizza and beer party to celebrate a win, to the simplest little instances of encouragement throughout the day.

Trust (T) is the basic psychological variable that is essential to any form of relationship. No trust, no relationship. If we want engagement, there needs to be trust. Trust is the mirror of how we show up on a day-to-day basis as human beings. Are we reliable? Do we do what we said we would do? Do we care for and stand up for our team?

Control (C) over one’s environment and knowledge of how events are going to unfold are fundamental psychological needs. But control is also linked to trust. In a high trust environment, the need for control is less. There is one more aspect of control when we are talking about employees. That is the sense that an employee has some degree of control over how they do their job. This is one of the foundations or cornerstones of employee engagement.

Every situation in the day that involves uncertainty either in outcome or in process will cause our team members to experience a loss of control. That closes the loop back to emotions because a sense of loss of control creates negative emotions.

There it is. As a great team leader, you need to manage the emotions, trust and sense of control of your team if you want to make sure that they're in the best possible shape to create fabulous customer experiences.


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Mike Hohnen, MBA is a coach, trainer, author and public speaker who supports leaders, managers and their teams in implementing the principles of the Service Profit Chain.

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