Driving Employee Engagement To Improve Customer Satisfaction

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Who owns customer satisfaction? In an overwhelming majority of businesses, it is the marketing department that drives the customer acquisition and support strategies. However, a number of recent studies show that Human Resources could have an important role to play as well. According to a research published by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, a look at nearly 755 bank retail employees over a three year period between 2005 and 2008 demonstrated strong correlation between job attitude and business performance. The study showed that rising employee engagement levels helped with increased customer satisfaction ratings over the subsequent year.

At the outset, the relationship between employee engagement and customer satisfaction may appear to be merely coincidental. But it is not difficult to understand why. According to Advance Systems Inc, a provider of employee management software, unhappy employees breed negativity at the workplace and this can potentially impact the service level that customers experience at the point of sale. The relationship between poor customer experience and satisfaction levels is quite straight-forward at this point. The solution is simple – improve employee engagement to increase customer satisfaction. But that is easier said than done in a corporate setup where human resources and customer management issues are handled by different departments with little to no interaction between them.

So how does one go about this? In this article, we will look at a couple of solutions that can effectively tackle improvement in employee engagement that can be driven from the marketing side.

Monetary Incentives: One of the tried and tested ways to improve engagement at the workplace is to incentivize employees for engaging better. Most companies provide performance bonuses and commissions commensurate to sales to SDRs and marketing reps. One way to improve engagement at the workplace is to implement similar incentive programs to other employees. For instance, the compensation for department heads (including those in the marketing and human resources departments) could include bonuses based on the results of engagement surveys conducted among employees in each of these departments.

Organize Brainstorming Among Managers: Once the monetary incentive programs are set up, it is a good idea to organize brainstorming sessions among managers and department heads. This way, managers may discuss strategies that worked for their respective teams and how other departments can learn and deploy similar engagement programs for their employees. Incentives need not be a zero sum game and such programs can be devised in such a way as to reward all performers equally. This encourages idea sharing that ensures engagement levels improve across the organization and this can directly impact customer satisfaction levels.

Track Bottomline Impact From Engagement: While various studies have established beyond doubt the impact of employee engagement on customer satisfaction, it goes without saying that its impact on customer revenues is not absolute and may vary from department to department. Rewarding different departments equally for their employee engagement improvement can be a strain on the marketing budget. A better way to do this is to monitor the impact of engagement from each department on the company’s bottomline and offer incentives commensurate to the direct impact on the bottomline.

Depending on your corporate policies, such programs can be instituted by the marketing department with or without help from human resources. In any case, it is a good idea to take such engagement programs at an organization level to improve engagement, not just to improve customer satisfaction, but to also improve the morale within your company.

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  1. If employee understand the link between customers and the economics of the business, engagement follows naturally. That is why economic transparency works. Treating employees like adults, involving them in the economics of the business, helping them to think and act like business partners, consistently drives profitable growth. The information engages their minds, and the trust engages their hearts. For 20+ years, clients of mine, including Southwest Airlines and Capital One, have consistently improved profits and the lives of the employees who drive those profits. Often referred to as Open-Book Management, here are a couple of articles that provide more context:
    https://hbr.org/2015/12/treat-employees-like-business-owners
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/fotschcase/2015/07/20/introducing-a-blog-about-companies-that-engage-their-employees-by-opening-the-books/
    Here are two short client videos that demonstrate employee engagement in a large company and a small one. Judge for yourself:
    Carlson Travel call center video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RJAEHPOxPQ
    Anthony Wilder Design Build video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev9JBmjjeCU
    If you are interested in discussing how you could benefit from this common sense approach to business, please send an email to me at [email protected] and we can find a time to speak.

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