Improving the customer experience is finding its way to the top of more and more CEO’s list of priorities. You’d imagine that the obvious thing would be to focus on customer engagement. But according to NPS guru and co-author of The Ultimate Question 2.0, Rob Markey, throwing your attention immediately toward the customer might be putting the cart before the horse. During his keynote at Experience 2014, he presented a counter-intuitive twist to customer experience improvement: employee engagement should come first.
While your customer experience initiative might have the Why’s and What’s agreed upon, your employees are a big part of the How. Neglecting the importance of their roles in the customer experience will likely undermine any program’s ability to be successful. You simply can’t have happy customers without engaged employees.
Most organizations think this rests with the HR function of an organization. Markey says this is the wrong way of going about it. In his opinion, coaching and engaging employees in customer experience should be the responsibility of the person they interact with most often — their supervisors.
Markey laid out four key factors that drive employee engagement and happiness: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, and Affiliation. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Are your frontline employees empowered with the freedom to make their own decisions to fulfill a customer’s needs? Are you growing their abilities and giving them opportunities to learn? Are you giving them a clear mission as well as a sense that their work is impactful? Are you making them feel like part of a team that can succeed, fail, and grow together?
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Once you’ve started answering yes to these questions, you’ll have started to tap into what really motivates people, and they’ll start delivering great experiences to your customers. The irony that Markey points out, however, is that despite this logic, many companies continue to have their least engaged employees in roles that interact the most with customers. Why? They probably use cost as an excuse.
But when you step back and realize that happier customers not only spend more but cost less to service, it seems like a very short-sighted move. Markey pointed out that companies with higher employee engagement not only have 2.5 times the revenue growth compared of those with lower engagement, but what’s more, their employees are more productive and have longer tenures — which means less spend on hiring and training.
Hence, Markey’s closing call to action: Don’t wait for your HR department. Start driving employee engagement through their supervisors now.Photo credit: rachaelvoorhees