Ignore the Employee Experience at Your Peril
Guest Post by Sybil F. Stershic, Quality Service Marketing
Customers have lots of choices given the proliferation of products and services available. That’s why the customer experience has become a critical competitive differentiator – treat customers right if you want to keep their business.
Employees also have choices. While the current economy doesn’t offer as many opportunities for employees to switch jobs as customers have to switch companies, employees can choose their level of on-the-job engagement. That’s bad news for employers who neglected employee concerns the past several years, figuring “a bad workplace is better than no workplace.” Their companies are at risk for significant brand damage because the customer experience begins with the employee experience.
Think about your own experience as a customer dealing with:
- Employees who genuinely want to help customers but are hampered by a lack of internal support
- Frontline staff who lack the organizational or product knowledge to sufficiently serve customers
- Employees who do not know the promises that have been communicated to customers
- A revolving door of new employees stemming from high turnover.
Customers are quick to pick up on signals of employee frustration that stem from restrictive operating policy or organizational conflict, no matter how skilled employees are at masking it.
How low will they go?
Employees who are expected to do their jobs without appropriate internal support cope by doing a workplace limbo dance; i.e., they’ll do the minimum to get under management’s limbo stick by appearing to be engaged without breaking their backs. At the same time, these employees are craning their necks to see what other jobs are available in the market. It’s a difficult balancing act that takes it toll on employee morale, productivity, and turnover – all factors that impact customers and the bottom line.
What’s a company to do?
Here are three tips to help keep your employees – and, ultimately, customers – engaged.
- Acknowledge employees who continue to rally the energy and enthusiasm needed to serve customers and co-workers despite limited resources.
- Find ways to respectfully engage employees in the process of coming up with innovative and practical ideas to strengthen employee and customer engagement; i.e., let them take ownership of the situation and possible solution(s). Then recognize and reward their participation.
- Provide opportunities for continued learning and professional development so employees have the necessary knowledge and skills to move the company forward.
The Takeaway: the customer experience mirrors the employee experience. If your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers!
Sybil F. Stershic, a leading authority on engaging employees through internal marketing, is the author of Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits (2012), Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care (2007) and the Quality Service Marketing blog. For more information, please visit Quality Service Marketing.