Employee or Customer?


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You may be too young to remember the Rolling Stones song “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” but it came to mind this am while I was thinking about this blog. I have worked with numerous organizations and countless CEOs on how they can improve their employee experience to drive peak performance and employee retention. The common denominator with all these groups is a feeling that you just can’t satisfy them and they feel like they aren’t satisfied. It sets the stage for what we see right now in the workforce marketplace. People jumping ship at the drop of a hat because they aren’t loyal to the brand or the vision. They just aren’t satisfied.

I don’t know about you, but I see an enormous number of videos, blogs and articles around this discussion called Employee Engagement. Organizations and leaders across the globe are working to figure out this ever-changing challenge to locate, hire, train, and retain top talent in a workforce economy that has a scarcity of great people. In those discussions I find that people tiptoe around certain topics, and ignore others. For instance, many articles discuss the importance of flexible work schedules, benefits, time off, company culture and work-to-life balance while neglecting, or minimizing the one topic everyone wants to avoid, pay. The truth is that those things are all great to push for and customize based on your company, but the one universal language is money. As they say, “money talks and bulls@$t walks.” So, if you want people to stick around and do a great job? PAY THEM TO! Then you can go to work on the other stuff.

For the purpose of the remainder of this article I am going to write under the assumption that pay is adequate to great in your organization. Therefore, I will exclude pay from the convo as I have already addressed it as the #1 thing to drive retention. With that out of the way the question remains, how do we locate, hire, train and retain high quality team members. Well, I want to propose a different thought process that might help. Have you ever thought of looking at all your employees as customers? I mean really consider them your customers? What would happen if every leader, in every department of your organization saw each of their team members as their own personal customers? I mean customers that they had to develop, acquire, service and maintain. Would that be a more powerful position to take? Let’s discuss.

I googled tips for creating great customer service and found a number of articles with tips and techniques. The one from CSM listed these 10 tips that I thought covered a good amount of ground.
From Top 10 Tips for Excellent Customer Service by IAN MILLER.

1. Anticipate the needs of the customer.
2. Greet customers with a smile.
3. Make time for the customer.
4. Make customers feel important.
5. Apologize when things go wrong.
6. Give customers more than they expect.
7. Ask customers for feedback.
8. Treat employees well.
9. Be truthful about the products that are being sold.
10. Bend the rules if needed.

So, what if we interchanged the word customer with employee, or team member? We could read number one as “anticipate the needs of the employee”. Use knowledge about the employee to predict future needs. These needs might be unusual or recurring, either way getting to know your employees shows them that they have not been forgotten and you have their best interests in mind. See what I mean? You can do it with the entire list and get an entirely different perspective on employee engagement or employee services. What if you started measuring employee engagement or satisfaction the same way companies do their customers? Think about something like an employee Net Promoter Score. Having employees rate their leadership or company just like a customer would. It truly creates an inverse pyramid for collaboration and authentic communication. I know there will be fears and obstacles but there are also solutions to those obstacles. The model is already proven to work but we’ve just been using it externally instead of inside out.

Going back to our original list, I would challenge you to take a look at your current operating rhythms and see how well you score out on these 10 items. Does the company apologize when it’s wrong? Does it even admit when it’s wrong? Does the company and the leadership deliver what the employees really want? Do you even know what they want? I mean you would take the time to do market research on your customers. Why not on your team members? Think about #6 for a second. Do you give your employees more than they expect? If not, how can you expect them to impart one someone else that which has not been imparted on them?

There isn’t one answer in solving the Employee Engagement or Employee Satisfaction challenge, but approaching your team members as customers that you want to retain can dynamically change your mindset and the actions you take with them toward your overall goals.

Live & Lead Exceptionally!

Eric Sims
Eric is a Contact Center Outsourcing expert who specializes in helping businesses help their customers. He is the Cofounder & CEO of Leading Edge Connections, LLC, America's #1 fully remote outsourced contact center. He is also the host of Preventing Brand$laughter. A weekly podcast that helps business gain the insights and information to protect their brand from self-inflicted sabotage.


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