In a previous post I outlined the importance of having engaged staff in your quest to deliver exceptional customer experience. Staff need to be motivated, competent and innovative in the way they approach customer satisfaction.
These thoughts were recently echoed by Rob Markey, co-author of The Ultimate Question 2.0, who used his keynote at Experience 2014 last week to expound that employee engagement needs to come before customer engagement. He argued that without engaged employees you can’t have happy customers.
Markey outlined four key factors that drive employee engagement and happiness which I’ve taken the opportunity to expand upon below:
Autonomy – This is about empowering your frontline employees to make their own decisions. It instills a sense of ownership and trust in staff, helps build morale and makes employees feel like they are important part in the delivery of great customer experience. In many cases it will also reduce customer service times because they don’t need to wait for a manager’s consent before resolving an issue.
Providing discount or credit delegations is one way companies can give frontline employees autonomy. For this to work though, employees need to be competent and coached to make good decisions.
Mastery – A key component of employee motivation and job satisfaction is the opportunity learn and gain new skills. Other than a higher level of engagement, the benefits to the organisation of doing this are improved effectiveness and a higher work quality. You’ll also attract and retain a higher rate of top-quality employees, improve the quality of employees’ work experience and realise the benefits of developing workers to their full potential.
Examples of ways to provide growth and development include:
Purpose – Customer experience professionals need to be constantly communicating the CX plan with the rest of the organisation ensuring each employee understands the part they play in that plan. Everybody needs how the important work that they are doing impacts what you are trying to achieve. Keep in mind that this is not just for frontline employees, its for every single person in the company. As Shep Hyken (@shephyken) said on Twitter last week: “If you’re not dealing with the customer, you are supporting someone who is”.
When a customer is wowed by an experience delivered by a member of the team, recognise that effort both publicly and privately.
Affiliation – Make employees feel like they are part of a much wider team. Demonstrate the entire company’s commitment to customers by having senior executives join them in the trenches.
I heard a great example of this from 25 years ago last week at a talk by Ronnie Jones, eBay’s Head of Customer Service Operations and Workforce, when he spoke at The Customer Show in Melbourne about driving customer centricity into the heart of your organisation. During his time as CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates would regularly take an hour an hour out of his day to join frontline employees taking tech support calls from customers. What a fantastic way to show support for their roles and demonstrate his commitment to the company’s ultimate shareholders!
According to Markey, companies with higher employee engagement have 2.5 times the revenue growth compared with those with lower engagement. They also have more productive employees with longer tenures with resultant positive effects upon hiring and training spending.
The message is clear: exceptional customer experience can only be delivered by engaged employees.
What are you doing to engage yours?
Dr Vadi Vojdani is the Practice Principal at Island Dental, a premier practice in Adelaide, South Australia with a focus on
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Tom Caley is a passionate advocate for employee and customer experience. His working life began in retail and contact