Why Should All Employees Be Focused On, And Tasked With, Delivering Customer Value?


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The quick answer is: Because it’s the smartest, and most customer-centric, productive and profitable, thing for any enterprise to practice.

First reason: the powerful link that exists between employee attitudes/behaviors vis-a-vis customers and customer experience.

There have been a number of professional and academic studies, in multiple industries, linking employee attitudes and behaviors with the value customers perceive in their experiences. Through targeted research, and resultant training, communication, process, and reward and recognition programs, what we define as ambassadorship formalizes the direction in which employee engagement has been trending toward for years. Simply, the trend is optimizing employee commitment to the organization and its goals, to the company’s unique value proposition, and to the customer. This is employee ambassadorship, a state where all employees are focused on, and tasked with, delivering customer value as part of their job description, irrespective of location, function or level.

In other words, though there needs to be coordination and management of initiatives through HR and a CXO/CCO, everyone in the company, from the file clerk to the CEO, has this day-to-day responsibility embedded within their job descriptions. So, while the ambassadorship research framework, which we use to identify the degree of linkage between employee attitudes/behavior and customer behavior, does include questions on job satisfaction and belief in the organization, the core is really about specific employee behaviors and a set of beliefs based on experience as a staff member.

Second reason: focus on ambassadorship creates the same positive financial and employee behavior results as focusing on customer experience.

This is a classic chicken-and-egg question, i.e. does focusing on the employee generate as much benefit for the organization as enhancing the customer experience; and there is ongoing debate about which should be the priority. Several entire books, in fact, have been written on this subject (such as The Customer Comes Second by Hal Rosenbluth and Diane Peters, and Firms of Endearment by Sheth, Sisodia, and Wolfe). There is general agreement that both developing employee ambassadors and customer advocacates should receive high priority and emphasis if an enterprise is going to be successful. What building ambassadorship does mandate, however, is that having employees focus on the customer will definitely drive more positive experiences and stronger loyalty behavior.

Third reason: as noted above, employee engagement is principally about productivity and alignment, and tells an organization little about level or degree of customer-centricity.

Our employee ambassadorship research includes multiple categories of attributes, many of which would be found, in one form or another, in engagement studies: Cohesion, Satisfaction, Business Alignment, Career and Growth, Management Effectiveness, and Morale and Culture. What employee engagement studies don’t include, however, is Customer Focus as a key attribute category, with diagnostics such as:

– The functions I perform contribute to the company’s delivery of customer value
– Cross-training enables me to provide better value to customers
– The company is customer-focused
– I understand customers’ value priorities
– Management listens to my ideas on creating value for customers
– The company has a clearly defined mission for creating customer value
– New products and services for customers are clearly communicated within the company
– I have the tools and resources I need to provide value to customers

This is just a small sample. In our research, we typically include between 20 and 25 Customer Focus attributes. What they reveal speaks volumes about the degree of cross-enterprise customer-centricity by various groups within a company. Bottom line; employee engagement may claim to influence customer behavior, and this is true in the way customer satisfaction influences customer behavior. In other words, it is incidental, passive, and superficial. Ambassadorship, purposely, chooses a different path, the path of employee focus on customers, ala Robert Frost’s classic poem, The Road Not Taken:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.



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