Never underestimate the impact your employees have on your business. Yes, the value of an engaged, loyal customer is obvious. However, before you can even think about customer loyalty, you must develop the core values within the organization to drive your employees to be the best they can be.
Core values should empower and inspire your employees to excel in their individual roles and lay the foundation for a culture of collaboration and understanding around the achievement of company goals.
Customer first. Employees always.
Put simply, if you can’t internalize a customer-first philosophy, and spread those ideals around your staff first in a way that’s meaningful and actionable, there’s no way you can expect to operationalize it and execute externally with customers or prospects.
So while I believe wholeheartedly in the customer coming first, never undervalue your employees or their impact on the success of any objective. They drive customer success and ultimately business results. There are 3 elements that go into assessing how your internal culture impacts customer satisfaction:
This is a tricky word to nail down; it can mean so many different things. In relation to employees, though, I use engagement to describe the influence they have in their role, and how they use it to help you grow a company. Engaged employees value ownership and the ability to make an impact.
Are your employees active in the decisions that impact their respective departments? If not, find out how you can make this happen – encourage and facilitate involvement. Even on a minor level there are opportunities to empower employees. It’s quite possible there are issues that upper management are not aware of that employees feel passionately about. Give these employees extra responsibility and let them take the lead to solve issues and innovate. An empowered employee, who can see the impact they’re having on an organization, is one of your best assets.
How aware are you of what’s going on in the office? Listening is such an underrated quality in a leader, yet it’s essential to assess your company’s internal health. By no means do I mean going to the extent of eavesdropping on personal conversations, but how aware are you of your company culture? Are your employees upset at something? Is there a general consensus of negativity, stemming from anything in particular?
When your employees aren’t happy or are disengaged it sets the tone for your business. This will quickly flow into interactions with customers and prospects. Businessman extraordinaire Richard Branson summarized this perfectly when he said, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.” And it really is that simple.
Surveys are an easy and effective way to tap into your company culture. However, be sure to develop a communications plan to share the results – good, bad or indifferent – and be prepared to take action to improve. Companies should then measure, share and celebrate victories with employees. In addition, you must set aside time to have meaningful discussions with your staff. Meet with your employees individually and spend the time to build trust and identify the issues that you need to address. It makes all the difference when trying to instill a customer-first philosophy.
3. Core values
What are your company’s core values? What do you stand for? What’s your purpose? They should be visible and well-known by everyone in the company, regardless of their job function. Core values drive WHY your employees are “showing up” for work each day, providing a larger purpose or vision they can rally behind. This culture of believers is the embodiment and essence of your corporate DNA.
Host a workshop with the relevant stakeholders in your company and discuss the larger world problem your business is solving for and determine what your worldview is. This will form the basis of your mission statement. Keep in mind that your mission statement is high-level thinking and goes beyond business functions or features. Once your statement is finalized you must circulate it throughout the organization at every available opportunity. With your mission statement ingrained into your employees, it’s far more likely to be actioned toward your customers.
Engaged employees are motivated to succeed; they take pride in the organization and are committed to the success of the company. In addition, they are extraordinary persuasive advocates for your brand. When employee engagement is part of the culture, companies reach their goals faster and have lower customer attrition and employee churn, increased sales, higher stock value, increased productivity, and more revenue and profit per employee.
Always approach business holistically
Building a successful customer success strategy requires a holistic approach. We live in a connected world. Your customers will drive your bottom line, but you shouldn’t assume they’ll choose your business without an amazing staff to get them there. Many companies have focused on the customer journey. I would argue that understanding and optimizing the employee journey is equally important. In fact, it’s a predecessor to successfully executing improvements in the customer experience.
Hire the very best employees and constantly assess how your internal culture is influencing customer satisfaction. Only then can you start focusing on developing loyalty among your customers. The best customer experience can only be provided when companies have the best employee experience.