Why do passionate employees lead to a great customer experience? Because employees who take pleasure from what they do will naturally provide a better experience to the customer.
Engaged employees are loyal and loyalty, if correctly channelled, leads to increased productivity which, in turn, leads to a better customer experience and ultimately improved company performance.
Companies often make the mistake of focusing their time and energy purely on engaging the customer facing employees, but true employee engagement crosses all functions and roles. Yes, customers mostly interact with certain faces of a company – marketing, sales, support, finance – so it is important that their experience is a good one during this direct contact – however, an exceptional experience is only possible when the whole company is engaged and embodies the internal culture.
This is what gives a company its unique identity, its own personality, its ‘secret sauce’.
Any employee engagement strategy also needs to be led and embodied by the leadership with accountability trickled down throughout the entire organisation ensuring buy-in across all levels and departments. It needs to be embedded throughout the entire employee lifecycle starting with recruitment, onboarding, performance management, development right up to exit interviews in order to create one consistent experience.
Our business proposition at SDL is to enable our customers to deliver an ‘exceptional customer experience’. If we’re promising that to our customers I firmly believe we should provide an excellent employee experience to our own people. We’ve been through tremendous change over the last two years at SDL so we’ve been working hard to maintain and increase our own employee experience.
Here are my top 10 tips to help organisations increase their employee engagement.
- Company culture. The tactics used to achieve employee engagement underpin the culture but they don’t create it. A company’s culture is in its DNA, very often with the tone set by the CEO. Find out what really motivates your employees and reflect these values in your initiatives and communications to reinforce and embed them. If your internal culture is right, you don’t have to worry about the external perceptions – it takes care of itself.
- Listen to your employees. Finding out what your employees think is critically important. It provides insights into the health of the company which can be measured over time. This can help to take the temperature on areas such as company culture, customer centricity, employee morale and likelihood to recommend.
- Tackle the issues. Use the insights from the survey to give you tangible areas to focus your employee engagement strategy.
- Communicate. Let the employees know you’re listening. You may not be able to address all the issues raised by the employees, but be transparent about what the issues are and your intention to address them. And capitalise on the positives! Remind people what they love about the company. Most importantly keep providing feedback on the progress you’re making, driving involvement and engagement.
- Invest in your employees. Provide the right technologies to support individuals and teams and make sure your employees are equipped to do the best job they can. Our recent Customer Experience study revealed the sweet spot for success is the combination of people and technology with customer service cited in three out of the top four reasons for positive Customer Experience (CX).
- Train and empower your employees to become loyal brand ambassadors. The same study revealed that the top CX failures are human or process related. For instance, 61% of those polled said their experience was diminished because an employee was poorly trained or not empowered to help. More than one third (35%) said they experienced poor response times. 15% said that after filing a complaint, they never heard back from the company at all!
- Collaboration. Build behaviour and working practices to underpin the company culture. This will ensure employees are committed to the organisational goals and values and motivated to contribute to the company’s success whilst at the same time ensuring their own careers flourish.
- Work/life balance. Not always easy to achieve in service industries where time is money and margins are tight but be innovative and flexible so people are able to balance their time and feel nurtured.
- Share knowledge. Share information to make sure everyone is knowledgeable. Ensure employees know the vision of the business but importantly also know the steps the company is taking to achieve that vision.
- And most importantly say thank you. Reward employees for their dedication and loyalty. Incentivise good behaviours and celebrate successes.