Companies like Zappos and Southwest Airlines got it early on –happy employees makes happy customers. It makes a whole lot of sense, but we are currently seeing very few companies mastering employee engagement. Gallup conducted their annual State of the Global Workforce study and found that worldwide, a mere 13% of employees are engaged.
Disengaged employees are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes, and that definitely includes customer service. Your disengaged employees are having a seriously negative impact on your customers and clients, and there are unfortunately a whole lot of them.
According to Cvent, an online customer satisfaction survey company, 80% of companies believe they provide superior customer service but only 8% of their customers agreed. Bryan Pearson, President and CEO of LoyaltyOne believe that employee engagement is the key to those customers’ hearts. Pearson said:“It's no secret that there is a direct correlation between a happy worker and a happy customer. A company cannot change customer behavior if it is not engaging its employees.”
It sounds like the start to fixing this issue might be awareness. If 80% of companies truly don’t realize how dissatisfied their customers are (which are the exact people they spend heavy resources studying and trying to impress) they definitely aren’t in touch with the engagement levels of their workforce.
Melissa Dawn Photiades, employee engagement expert gives us several pointers on successful employee engagement programs. She recommends turning employee feedback into a continual process, rather than a yearly monster of a task.
Aligning the goals of individuals with company goals is also a very strong way to increase employee engagement. This means that business are going to need to become more transparent, track progress and have a real dialogue that involves all levels of the organization.
Very often, in customer service positions, workers are not given the authority or ability to effectively fix anything or make a wrong a right for customers. Without the empowerment and freedom to offer customers what they’re looking for, the employee simply becomes an emotional punching bag. Pearson said:“The best way to foster loyalty among employees is to empower them to make decisions that improve the customer experience,” he said. “Provide them with the information and customer data that will help them make better-informed decisions in real time.”
Offering on-going training to employees does a few things for engagement. Firstly, any time an organization makes an investment in its employees, they are showing their workforce that they are valued. When workers feel valued, they are more likely to put discretionary effort in their work. Secondly, training is stimulating. It gets workers out of their day-to-day and challenges them. Lastly, training offers employees a chance for advancement. They need to see a future with the company in order to invest in it.
That’s it, what’s good for employee engagement is good for the company as a whole. Customer loyalty is vital to the brand of any organization, and it starts with engaged employees.