The Importance of Treating Employees As Customers

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We all know that large companies like Dell, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson and other take customer engagement and loyalty seriously. 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.   At the same time, studies increasingly show that employees who are treated well are much more motivated to take good care of your customers, enhancing customer experience and boosting your company’s reputation. So, if you are looking to provide better customer service, make sure your employees are happy – treat your employees as customers! Customer experience is at the core of any business strategy, and it starts with the employees who are the face of your company to your customers. It’s not realistic for leaders and managers to respond to every phone call or email, so they must rely on front-line customer service employees to translate your company’s vision and mission into action. What does it take for your employees to be happy? For one, employee engagement has been getting a lot more attention in recent years especially with younger generations of new employees. Employees feel energized when they receive personal attention and engagement from their superiors, which in turn result in high levels of motivation. Employee engagement begins with sharing the same overall vision for your company as you. Many employees are all too familiar with their superiors weighing them down with lengthy presentations and emails that focus on what managers want them to do and how to do it, skipping over their most basic question: why should they want to do it? Before asking your employees to take on a new responsibility or deliver a certain standard of customer care, they need to know why it is so important. Your teams need to know that great customer service will help them, the customer and the company. Let them know how important they are to you, the manager, in achieving your business goals and that these goals will benefit the whole organization, including them. Too often managers try to engage their employees from the point of view of the organization. Instead consider the values that your customer service representatives have, and shift your thinking to center around the goals of your employees. To achieve a strong and motivated work force, it is crucial that you and your employees share the same vision and business objectives and that they will benefit from the hard work and achievement of pursuing these goals. Positive customer experiences begin with a positive work environment Happy and engaged employees who love coming in to work have are the ones that have enough resources to do their best, feel like they are benefiting from one-on-one mentorship, and are recognized by their superiors for the work they do. Their positive dispositions are best when engaging with customers; they create better customer relationships and improve customer experiences. If you are not sure if the conditions at your work place need improving, try collecting employee feedback and determine where and when your employees feel most motivated and engaged. Ask your employees to weigh in on your workplace conditions with human resource surveys that focus on issues like career development; relationships with management, employee benefits, and work-life balance. The feedback that you collect will be an invaluable resource when improving your employees’ working conditions and will result in a higher quality customer experience.  Reward employees for their hard work When companies achieves success, particularly in higher sales or an increased number of renewing clients, often times, the person on the front lines of customer service feels left out of the success that their great interactions has brought. Organizations that enjoy long-term customer loyalty and satisfaction know that it can’t be achieved without taking great care of their customer service employees. Forget your sales numbers, if you take care of your employees they will in turn take care of your customers. Show your employees you appreciate them by rewarding incentives for excellent work. You can achieve this by rewarding them publically with a bonus or some other prize. You might want to establish quarterly goals or recognize one-time special achievements in order to help your employees stay motivated and engaged. Your employees will in turn be proud and emotionally invested in your company, and will treat your customers with the care they deserve. Employee engagement is a complex issue and has many contributing factors. Start with some feedback on how your employees feel and look for ways to improve. Once you as a manager, work to make improvements internally to the organization, your employees will direct those improvements externally, making your company shine on the outside. Improved employee satisfaction leads to higher quality customer service, so treat your employees as though they are customers and get the best results!  
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog