Reaching customers and maintaining loyalty levels is pretty obvious as a necessary objective toward company success. Research firm Gartner estimates that customer engagement initiatives are underway at over 15% of Global 1000 organizations, run by leaders such as the chief innovation officer, CEO, CIO, head of digital marketing, or chief customer officer.
Yet while it has become quite accepted that the happiness and engagement levels of customers is a key feature of a successful and flourishing business, what about the happiness and engagement of your employees who serve these customers?
Take a company like Dell as an example. While customers think of Dell as the end product, they also are often in contact with customer service representatives who they expect will meet their needs quickly and professionally. A company’s employees are the main frontline, the active intermediaries of a company with its customers. They act as the direct line between what your company says and promises and what the customer actually receives. The secret to making sure this intricate, complex, and vital component of your company’s chain works well is to make sure your employees are happy, satisfied, and engaged with their work. When your employees are motivated and satisfied, they will actively do their best for both your company and your customers, not because they are forced to, but because sincerely want to.
The first step to improving employee engagement, a vital one that allows you to take more specific action, is to get direct feedback from them as to how they are feeling fulfilled in the workplace. Sending out surveys to your employees at least once a year to gauge their happiness within your company allows you to not fumble in the dark to try and improve things for them. Some key areas to investigate are the relationship your employees have with management, with the company as a whole, if they are satisfied with their pay and benefit packages, and how they feel in their work environment. These survey’s help open up the world of your employees in a way that can help you fine tune your business to be a more engaging thing for your employees. It should be noted that guaranteeing anonymity on these surveys will help employees feel safe giving their honest opinions.
There exist other things that apply more universally to help improve employee engagement. Your employees represent your company’s message and vision; they represent everything your company has written down. Making sure your employees convey this message, then, is very important. But that can’t be done by simply requiring it of your employees, because this will only make them feel disconnected from it. Instead, making your employees feel your message, actually become attached to it and then they will actually want to make sure they carry it on in their interactions with customers.
If your company believes in, say, ecological responsibility, making sure your employees feel a deep connection with this mission will make them not only better employees, but will keep them more engaged with your company and, therefore, with your customers.
Just like with the company’s message and vision, actual business practices and company policies too should be understood and taken on, as opposed to forced upon, by the employees. Take a simple policy, like “never say no to a customer.” While this sounds simple and straight forward enough, it might not be to employees. For instance, if a customer is being unreasonable with an employee, and they have that policy ringing in their ears but don’t understand why it’s important, they will act more out of fear of the repercussions of not following through with it rather than the real reason it’s in place: to keep customers happy.
Instead of simply stating this as a company policy, explain it to your employees, who are smart enough to grasp it. Never saying no to a customer means that the customer is always satisfied with their purchase, and therefore will come back as a happier customer, which benefits both the frontline workers who deal with the customer and the company.
Customer engagement and happiness lead to more sales and better loyalty to your company, and employee engagement spells similar success. Keeping your employees happy will not only improve their moods at work, which in itself would be beneficial to your company, but can also lead to a better representation of your company, its mission and policies, to your customers. An engaged working force is a working force that not only cares about your company but cares about your customers and the experience that they get from your company. If they feel genuinely attached, feel they are respected and engaged within your company, and are treated as intelligent enough to be explained fully company policies, they will carry that sense of pride both in themselves and the company to the customers. And that can only be a good thing.