How often have you heard that satisfied or engaged employees have a positive impact on customer experiences? There is vast support for this relationship. And this relationship is promoted and cultivated through such strategies as building an engaged employee workforce, designing and cultivating a customer centric culture in organizations, training personnel in service skills and customer service orientation, designing and aligning internal business partners around a customer focus, and obtaining executive buy-in, among many others.
But, how often have you heard that customers drive employee satisfaction? What you may have read or heard is that when companies collect customer feedback through surveys and other methods, they close the loop with their employees by sharing the feedback, undertaking all kinds of change management strategies and hope to build momentum around delivering positive experiences for their customers. What companies need to understand is that influencing change is not only difficult, but it also demands a deeper understanding of the relationship between employees and customers.
There is compelling evidence that customers drive employee satisfaction. Frey, Bayon and Totzek (2013)1 for example, have asserted, and support empirically, that customers transfer their positive feelings to employees when they both perceive the same reality (imagine the time when you really felt good in your interactions with a sales person who also felt the same way). When customers feel good and express it, employees feel appreciated and recognized. Place yourself in the role of a customer facing employee for a moment and ask yourself how you would feel if you received positive messages from customers?
Employees are a company’s brand, they are the instruments of trust and can create lifetime customer value. Organizations must recognize this as central to their CX strategies and take appropriate operational actions to bring life to the loyalty potential that employees can create. Organizations that seek to compete well must build customer centric personas to build lifetime customer value.
Here are some considerations to achieve this objective:
1. Feedback is serious business, so treat it seriously by sharing it with employees in meaningful and important ways, not in a perfunctory ‘check off list’ style.
2. Empower front line employees to make ‘on the spot’ discretionary decisions to build an economy of trust.
3. Reinforce the recognition employees feel from their customers with an internal recognition system. Your customer facing employees are the front line of success, keep them all invigorated.
4. Cascade positive customer experience feedback throughout the organization, especially in the backrooms. Keep in mind that everyone has a role in influencing how customers view an organization, some are just removed from the front line action because of their specific roles.
5. Align marketing and human resources more than might be the case now. Think about it-employees and customers are the greatest assets of any organization. Should the two critical functions in these organizations not work closely together?
6. Include customer feedback in all employee engagement building strategies.
7. Do not only share what customers had to say. Craft stories of when employees felt their best in their interactions with customers and share these. Positive stories from employees themselves are contagious!
1 How Customer Satisfaction Affects Employee Satisfaction and Retention in a Professional Services Context, Regina-Viola Frey, Toma´s Bayo´n, and Dirk Totzek, Journal of Service Research,2013, 16(4) 503-517
Mohamed Latib, Ph.D
Chief Customer Officer,