About a month ago, The Verge published a scathing piece on Instagram’s Finest Luggage, Away. In the piece, many employees, who asked to remain anonymous, recalled their time at the company and discussed what can only be described as a “toxic culture.”
Remarkably, prior to this outing, Away has been rated one of the highest in delivering great Customer Experiences. Since the beginning, Away branded itself as a company who delivers not just luggage, but experiences.
If experience is what they’re selling: What’s with the disparity between their Customer Experience (CX) and Employee Experience (EX)?
We all know, markets are saturated right now.
Customers can choose from so many options and one of the predominant ways companies can distinguish themselves is through memorable customer experiences. From the outside, Away appeared to succeed in delivering on their “Customer Obsessed” core value.
In one such example, a mutual friend posted a picture of her Away luggage in an Instagram story. Months later, my friend went on a trip with her and noticed that she had different luggage. What happened? She said that after a few months (and a few short domestic flights), her Away luggage didn’t stand the test of time. Once she contacted the company, they offered her a full refund, no questions asked. Customer obsessed? It sure seems so!
The Verge describes Away’s internal culture in quite a different tone. This culture, for instance, included employees who were forced to work on weekends and until the wee hours in the night. During the holiday season, many employees describe not being able to go on their previously approved vacations and those who worked sixteen-hour days were not getting paid overtime. The many stories shared on how the company failed its employees are cringeworthy.
How do you successfully align your customer promise and your internal culture?
Organizations that believe the act of having values will be enough to guide their leadership team and engage their employees have their strategy wrong. The mistake many organizations make is in blasting a few important words on the website and pointing back to them at the time of the annual performance review. Having values doesn’t mean you have a healthy ethos.
The moral of the story is that compromising your internal culture will eventually fail your company.
You just can’t get there (future profitability & customer loyalty), from here (disengaged employees & low morale).
"The awakened leader realizes that in order to deliver experiences their customers remember; they leverage their employees to create those experiences."
How do you do that?
You put your people first. And, most importantly, you keep yourself aware of how you’re showing up as a leader in the organization. CEOs are not immune to making mistakes. Just like employees they need coaching and training. Executives should routinely hold up a mirror up to their face to ensure they haven’t fallen off the tracks. Leadership is critical in aligning an organization’s internal and external success.
A connected leader knows the customer and employee experience are not independent of each other. Leaders that implement holistic strategies to create well-being in all pillars of their organization will attract top talent, retain their employees and secure long term customer loyalty.
Not to mention, they won’t have to be concerned about a backdoor Slack channel blasting company culture.
Jacqueline Jasionowski is the founder of Shift Awake Group. Her “soul” mission is to help others connect with their purpose through a higher level of consciousness that drives results and enables innovation along the way. Please contact 614.403.6540 for info.