Experience Matters

We all know the difference between a great experience and a bad one. The waiter who double-checks on your food allergies before serving you the dish you ordered is great; the cashier who asks you to go back and find another matching item with a price tag, because it’s missing from the item you are buying, is not. The airline that remembers all your seat preferences, meal choices and favorite entertainment from your last trip is great; the airline that bumps you from the flight without notice or apology is not. These great and not-so-great experiences make up the fabric of our everyday lives as consumers. They matter — not only for our stress and happiness levels, but our buying choices and loyalty.

There is a hidden connection here that a lot of companies miss: A great customer experience starts with your employees. Whether it’s an individual who cares about the customer in front of her or him – like the waiter – or a large group of employees who shape the experience of thousands of customers – like an airline’s marketing and customer relations staff – employees who feel high levels of engagement in their roles will invest more effort into providing a quality experience. Researchers such as Gallup have proven the correlation between higher employee engagement and positive customer ratings.

Realizing this critical connection, we at Adobe have combined two previously disconnected parts of the company into one new entity. Our new Customer and Employee Experience organization combines our customer experience organization – the people who are on the front lines of helping our customers utilize our products – with our human resources and facilities organization, the team that was focused on our people and their workplace environment. We believe we’re one of the first companies, at least in the technology industry, to combine these functions. The unified focus of this organization is the people that are essential to our business, our customers and employees, and the understanding that people want the same fundamental things:

Adobe has succeeded in a highly competitive market because of our focus on employees – being a “great place to work,” innovating in our family pay and time-off practices, eliminating annual performance reviews and community action. However, in our approach to customer support, we started off at a deficit. As a company who originally sold almost entirely through channel partners, having a frontline customer support function was not always the top priority.

As our business model has evolved, making this customer touchpoint equally world-class with our employee experience is critical. We have a fantastic support team – but ownership needs to extend to injecting employee experience into the thinking of every one of our employees, regardless of role.

To start, we’re making a lot of changes, large and small, to make things easier for our customers to do business with us and get help. We are also driving more internal awareness of our customers and their day-to-day experience in utilizing our products. I look forward to sharing our lessons learned as we go on this journey.