Can Good Employee Experience Shape Better Customer Experience? Mary Poppen, Chief Strategy and Customer Officer at says “Yes, indeed!”

Employee experience - headshot of Mary Poppen
What’s in a name? For Mary Poppen, her’s is synonymous with organizational knowledge and understanding that the employee experience contributes significantly to the customer experience. Mary’s insights are widely respected across the customer success industry, and she has been a speaker and contributor to many articles and books on the subject. That is why she was the perfect guest for the Cohesion Podcast with Amanda Berry, Manager of Corporate Brand & Communications and Head of Internal Communications at Simpplr.

Mary Poppen is the current Chief Strategy & Customer Officer at is a customer intelligence platform that produces customer data, allowing for proactive team action across the customer journey. With visibility into your customer’s behavior, teams can collaborate to identify potential problems, as well as upsells and renewals, all while creating an excellent customer experience. And that is where her expertise lies—the intersection of employee and customer experience. 

Getting Companies to be Employee Centered

Utilizing her educational background, a master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology, Mary concentrated on consulting with a focus on organizational effectiveness and process improvement. However, she realized quickly that as a consultant, one could make recommendations, but those recommendations weren’t necessarily going to be followed. As a consultant, you also do not have the benefit of being able to see your suggestions come to fruition.

Mary decided to go into a new direction and moved to an internal position at an HR software company, Success Factors. There she believed her advice would be utilized appropriately. While her priority was to retool the talent management and leadership development within the organization, Mary was also introduced to SaaS—software as a service.

“Success Factors had just launched the performance and talent management SaaS solution. I implemented that at my current organization, and it was game-changing,” Mary explained. “We went from 30% completion of employee appraisals to 98% with the very first launch of that solution. And it was really eye-opening because it was an opportunity to put the employee at the center of a process that used to be HR and manager driven.”

Not soon after, Mary had the realization that the employee experience had a direct impact on the customer experience by the delivery of not only services but the enrichment of relationships. It would make sense to prioritize the employee and their experience for a business that wanted to keep customers.

The Employee Experience has a Direct Link to a Customer Satisfaction

From that point forward, Mary focused on customer experience and improving customer delivery from a relationship standpoint. “I realized that our happy customers, our most happy customers, had a really strong relationship,” Mary stated.

Mary analyzed the relationships between employees and customers in their organization.  Customers with solid sales, services, or executive relationships also had better overall customer satisfaction. But Mary believed that relationship had to be more than transactional. It had to be tactical. In fact, she dislikes the “v-word”—vendor. She believes that to keep a customer, you must go beyond the vendor status in the eye of the customer. You need to be their partner and strategic advisor that builds connections and provides value.

Plainly said, unhappy employees produce unhappy customers. These customers saw the company only as a vendor, and the relationship was merely a transactional reactionary solution.  Mary said it struck her that the differentiator was relationships. Engaged, happy employees had contagious enthusiasm that transferred to customer connections, thus creating satisfied, engaged customers. That means the company benefits if the employer enables an employee to have a positive experience. The results are growth, expansion of customers, and referenceability talent that wants to work for your company. The question Mary wished to solve was how best to generate a repeatable methodology that can be applied to any business

Can technology be the answer?

Mary has been looking for ways to leverage technology for years.She wants to produce a transformative experience for customers at Mary believes it should focus on customer intelligence, providing a voice of the customer, customer sentiment, and insight into their behavior across the entire organization.By aligning priorities across sales, customer success, and support marketing, everyone can use the same customer intelligence to make decisions and actions cross-functionally. 

“This is a really exciting place to be for the customer,” Mary emphasized, “because it means we can now truly put the customer at the center.”

Building a customer-centric organization by designing and managing and employee experience and environment that values the worker and enables them to pass on the sentiment to the customer? Now, that is why Mary Poppen is magical!  

To hear the rest of the story and how Mary Poppen has successfully developed employee-customer strategies with various organizations including, listen to the Simpplr Cohesion Podcast.You can also listen to it on Apple Podcast and Spotify.

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