It’s fair to say that when we enjoy doing something, we’re more likely to put our heart and soul into it, and as a result, we get more in return. I’m not just thinking about how much extra effort I put into finishing every episode of Game of Thrones before Season 8 airs versus doing the dishes or tackling that mountain of ironing that seems to be taking over the living room, either.
The same is true at work. In fact, the link between engaged employees and successful businesses has by now been researched and proven so heavily that saying ‘happy and engaged employees stick with their employers longer; are more productive; take fewer sick days’ almost qualifies as a truism.
For example, recent Gartner research found that organizations with high levels of engagement reported 3x higher financial outcomes than those with low engagement. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile, and even come up with more ideas to innovate and improve products and processes.
This begs the question: how do organizations with highly engaged workforces bottle up all that potential into better customer experience? Naturally, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but I do think it starts with listening, so here are my top four ways you can turn listening to your employees into a virtuous circle that drives greater loyalty, revenue, and success:
1. NIP ISSUES IN THE BUD BEFORE THEY HURT CUSTOMERS
In today’s experience-driven world, everyone in the organization needs to focus on getting the customer experience right. Whether it’s frontline staff in a contact center or store, to ‘back of house’ in marketing, sales, finance, and R&D, everyone has valuable information, wisdom, about things that might need improving. If you’re listening actively enough, you might even hear some of this before your customers are unlucky enough to feel the pain.
The problem is very often companies only listen to their employees once a year, if that, during the annual survey. It’s like your opinion matters, but only that one time in March.
Instead, roll out a continuous listening program across your organization, where employees are encouraged to share their views regularly. This way you can collect this insight in a structured way and share it. I’m not talking about a suggestion box. Continuous listening helps because:
- It provides a regular employee health check across the whole company.
- It uncovers specific areas to improve in teams and departments, building a complete and ongoing picture of their performance and effectiveness.
- It encourages teams and individual employees to take ownership of improvement in a collaborative and open way.
- It can spot issues at specific touchpoints within the employee journey, allowing you to channel your efforts to where it will have the most impact.
Combined, this enables you to measure and monitor all the time, improve the employee experience and in turn deliver better customer experience.
2. USE YOUR EMPLOYEES TO UNCOVER ROOT CAUSES
We live in a highly competitive, technology-driven world (more truisms?). This means that customer expectations are relentlessly rising, and the experience you give them has to be forever improving.
Customers experience symptoms, while employees uncover root causes. For example, if one customer complains that their delivery is late, it might be an isolated incident. But, if everyone complains of late deliveries, there’s a broader issue.
No doubt you’re already listening to your customers, but to bring about innovation and improvements, what you need is a simple, structured follow-up mechanism in your teams to encourage employees to work together to uncover the root causes of customer and employee issues regularly. Alongside solving existing, known problems, having these ideation mechanisms helps to reveal insights that aren’t picked up from direct customer feedback. This is because your employees understand what customers are saying every day.
3. ENGAGED EMPLOYEES = ENGAGED CUSTOMERS
Ok, time for more truisms: people buy from people. Employees are the face of your business, whether you are online, offline, face to face or in a factory. We’ve all experienced the positive energy that comes from walking into a shop where the employees have a genuine enthusiasm for the product they’re selling or have been impressed by the speed and friendliness of a response to an email or social media post. How about how you felt that time you received a delivery that was packed with care and thoughtfulness, versus that time, it was chucked in a box from the three-point line with some token bubble-wrap as an afterthought?
So first, measure how customers feel at every interaction (maybe a smiley at an airport, or a text message after a delivery perhaps). However, just as importantly, regularly measure how the employees feel at those same interaction points and why. It’s not rocket science, but it can help uncover valuable, timely feedback on both sides of the ‘experience’ coin.
4. MINE THE COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE COLLECTED BY EMPLOYEES
We live in a world that is generating unprecedented amounts of data. Yet, identifying what is useful and relevant is more and more difficult. Wood for the trees. Music from noise. Whatever analogy you want to employ, it can lead to too much data and not enough information.
Listen to your employees to get first-hand intelligence on what your rivals are up to, and why they think it matters. This anecdotal information can make the difference between winning and losing new business, but can easily be missed by external market research. Take the example of pricing: a customer calls up to say they will cancel not because of the service or product, but because the competitor will give them longer to settle their bills. On the flip side, employees may notice that they are getting more calls from customers in a particular region who are looking to leave one of your rivals.
Both of these examples could lead to quick, simple product changes to win and retain more business.
These are just some of the things you can do to engage more with your employees to deliver better customer experience. Active, continuous listening, using the wisdom within your teams to fix the root cause of customer problems, measuring and improving the employee experience alongside the customer experience and acknowledging the huge insight that your workforce can provide into your competitors; each of these on its own is easy to deliver, but so often overlooked. Do everything on the list, and you may find a powerful competitive edge.
Right. That’s it, blog done; time to get back to Game of Thrones. Actually, that pile of ironing isn’t getting any smaller!