Oh, By the Way, Do You Understand How You Contribute To Optimizing Customer Experiences?
And…..as an employee, are you –
a. Loyal to the organization?
b. Committed to the success, goals, values and objectives of the organization?
c. Proud to work for the organization?
d. Positive about the organization?
Can you also say how likely you’ll be to still be employed there in the next year?
Great! Terrific! Or, as my British pals might say, tickety-boo! According to many HR consulting and training organizations, that makes you aligned and engaged (though not necessarily productive). Maybe you’re also satisfied, even happy, both short-term and tactical states of mind for an employee. Is that enough to create ambassadorship, where helping optimize customer experiences is (or should be) in everyone’s job description? Employee ambassadorship, connected to but distinctive from employee satisfaction and employee engagement, is defined (like engagement) as commitment to the organization itself; but it goes further. Ambassadorship is also identified by commitment to the organization’s product and service value proposition, and, uniquely, to the customers.
In ambassadorship, we also ask employees the following questions:
a. How often do you tell others how good the company’s products and services are?
b. How often do you tell others how bad the company’s products and services are?
c. How often do you tell others how good the company is as a place to be employed?
d. How often do you tell others how bad the company is as a place to be employed?
e. How strongly would you recommend the company as a place to work?
f. Do the company’s products and services exceed customer expectations, even delight them?
Ambassadorship, supportive of customer-centricity initiatives, especially as they impact experiences and relationships, directly links employee behavior to these outcomes. To understand how we have arrived at ambassadorship, and the value it represents for organizations, we can begin with the SERVQUAL Model. The SERVQUAL Model is now almost 30 years old. And, while some of it remains very useful and applicable – particularly striving for value delivery perceptual alignment between employees and customers – we are living in a vastly different world today, for both employees and customers. It’s understood that stakeholder decision dynamics are far more emotional and relationship-based than was considered in 1985, when SERVQUAL was created. As noted, employee satisfaction elements are largely tactical and rational in nature; and, to influence key elements of customer experience, even employee engagement, as defined, has only inferential and superficial effect.
While I’m taking on established models, I’ll also include the venerable and venerated Service Profit Chain. Unfortunately, the Service Profit Chain, important as a means of linking customers and employees when it first appeared, misses some contemporary realities. Here’s what I said in a 2011 CustomerThink blog on the subject: “The service-profit chain postulated that employee satisfaction drives customer satisfaction. Today’s demanding and continuously changing customer environment requires tools for better understanding of both customer behavioral drivers and drivers of employee attitude and action that extend well beyond conventional-wisdom communication and satisfaction feedback approaches.”Here’s the full blog, which has been viewed almost 3,000 times: http://customerthink.com/linking_employee_behavior_to_customer_loyalty_advocacy/
Ambassadorship recognizes that there’s a definite, and powerful, linkage of stakeholder groups. Customers who actively (vocal, level of favorability, reduced consideration set, etc.) express their personal commitment to a supplier can be strongly positive (advocates and brand loyalists), neutral, or negative (saboteurs). The level of commitment and advocacy/bonding is based on customers’ rational and emotional response to experiences and relationships.
Employees, similarly, can significantly impact customer loyalty behavior toward their employer through a range of attitudes and behaviors on behalf of the brand, company, and customer. These attitudes and behaviors, like those of customers, can range from highly positive, to indifferent, to highly negative.
Great companies – Google, Southwest Airlines, Wegmens, Amazon, Zappos, Whole Foods Market, and Trader Joe’s – with great leaders understand what practicing ambassadorship, across the entire enterprise, can mean for the organization, its customers, and its employees. The perspectives of these exemplars on the value of human capital as an internal brand-building mechanism, is one of the key factors in what makes them great.