Thursday, March 17, 2016

Creating Employee Experiences That Drive Customer Delight

Image courtesy of mdennes
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Maansi Sanghi of CloudCherry.

Discover the importance of employee engagement and happiness in driving customer delight.

Achieving customer delight is paramount to the success of a business. Customer satisfaction is no longer enough – at least for businesses that want to thrive instead of just survive. But creating a delightful customer experience can be difficult, especially if you’re focusing solely on the customer.

We’ve had it hammered into us that only companies that put the customer first succeed, which is true. Up to a point. The key to creating a delightful customer experience lies not in the quality of the product, or your pricing strategy, or your marketing campaigns. It lies in the little things your company does, in going the extra mile (or ten) for your customers. And the people who do that are your employees.

Thus, technically, to build a customer-oriented business that is fully engaged in creating a delightful experience for your customers, you need to put your employees first. Happy employees lead to happy customers, and delighted employees lead to ecstatic customers.

The Connection between Employee Engagement and Customer Satisfaction
On a logical level, you can probably already see the connection between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. However, just in case you are still skeptical, or would rather have some clear facts proving what you might consider pure speculation, here are some studies that prove without a shadow of a doubt that there is a powerful link between how happy your employees are and how satisfied your customers are.
  • The Gallup State of the American Workplace study discovered that the companies in the top 25% ranked from highest to lowest in terms of employee engagement had customer ratings higher by 10%. In other words, the higher the level of employee engagement, the better the ratings from customers.
  • A Washington State University study found that there is a clear connection between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, namely that the happier employees are, the more delighted customers will be. They also found a direct link between the degree of satisfaction customers experience and the financial performance of a business. Ergo, employee satisfaction is connected to financial performance, which means that the happier your employees are, the more money your business will make.
  • A series of studies conducted by Bain & Company show that how employees act and their attitude is one of the most important aspects in achieving customer satisfaction. The more engaged an employee is, the more dedicated they will be to making customers happy, which eventually leads to customer delight and a better bottom line for your business.
And it’s not just studies that prove this connection. Many companies have posted improved results after improving employee engagement, such as:
  • Morris Management Specialists found that for every 2% increase in employee engagement, customer satisfaction went up by 1%;
  • Sears focused on improving employee engagement in an effort to improve their results in the 90s and they found that a 4% increase in employee satisfaction over a 12-month period led to an increase of 4% in customer satisfaction, which amounted to approximately $200 million in additional revenues over that same time frame.
Clearly, the higher the level of employee engagement, the happier customers will be and the more money your business will make.

A Few Strategies to Help You Increase Employee Engagement
We’ve established that there is a direct connection between employee engagement and customer satisfaction, and that businesses should focus on improving employee engagement to eventually improve revenues and profitability. But how do you go about improving employee engagement? Here are a few strategies to help you get started.

Lead by Example
The first thing a business should be doing is leading by example. The company’s leadership needs to walk the walk and talk the talk, which means that you need to act and behave precisely how you want your employees to act and behave. You expect them to go the extra mile for your customers? Then you need to do the same. And not just for your customers, but for your employees too. It’s been shown that employees are 55% more engaged and 53% more focused in a company where the management leads by example.

Give Your Employees More Control
The more control someone has over their life, the happier they will be and you can use this to great effect to improve the happiness of your employees. Give your people a greater level of control over their environment and their work habits. People have demanding lives both in and out of work and nothing boosts employee engagement and loyalty quite as effectively as a boss who tries to help their employees achieve a good balance between their personal and work lives.

Encourage Socialization
Humans are highly social and interaction with other people significantly improves our mood, even for people who are more introverted. So, if you want to improve the mood of all your employees, create a work environment that is boosts social interaction. Things such as arranging workstations so employees can easily communicate with each other, encouraging holiday and birthday celebrations and providing an eating area where employees can have lunch together will go a long way towards increasing employee happiness.

Make Work Enjoyable
If you really want your employees to be happy, then make sure their work life is enjoyable. Forget about the rules that drove the 20th century when an employee’s value was directly tied to the number of hours worked. Instead, focus on their results and allow people to work when and where they want, if possible.

Get them the equipment and software they need to make their life easier. Listen to their concerns and address them. Make your employees feel valued and they will repay you by making your business the best it can be.

Acknowledge Their Hard Work
People love to have their hard work acknowledged, even if it’s just with a simple thank you. Surprisingly, many of those in management positions, especially in large organizations, forget the value of thanking their employees. It’s simple, but so important.

Acknowledging the hard work of your employees is the fastest way to build trust and motivate people to want to do even better. But don’t just limit your praise to closed doors. Publicly praise great employees and you’ll encourage everyone else to want to achieve the same standards.

And if a customer praises your employees, let them know that their work is paying off. You’d be surprised at how much more engaged and happy your employees will be to know that their efforts are being noticed and acknowledged by your customers.

Using Employee Engagement Surveys to Measure Results
Once you’ve devised a plan and implemented it to improve employee engagement, you need to measure your results. You need to find out what whether what you’re doing is effective or not and the best approach is to survey them.

Imagine your employees are your customers and survey them to find out what you can do better. If you are worried about skewed results because employees are worried about telling the truth, you can allow them to fill in the surveys anonymously. But if this is the case, then you might have a more serious problem because if your employees are afraid to talk to you and tell you the truth, you might need to review your organization’s culture.

Employee feedback is as critical as customer feedback. Not only will you be able to discover other approaches you can take to improve happiness and engagement, you’ll also be able to find out where you’re going wrong. And, in many cases, you’d be surprised how much the small things matter. Just like you internalize and act on your customers’ feedback to improve their experience, you should do the exact same thing with your employees. Take what their saying on board and act on it. Otherwise, you risk alienating your employees or, at the very least, creating a laissez-faire attitude because if they come to believe you will never act on their concerns or to fulfill their needs, they’ll take the same attitude with your customers.

The happier your employees are, the happier your customers will be. And, usually, it doesn’t take a lot to make your employees happy. Just like with customers, it’s all about the details. But even if those details seem small to you, when you put them all together, they will help create an experience that will have your employees eager to come to work and ecstatic about doing as much as they can to create a delightful experience for your customers.

Maansi Sanghi was with SaaS-based startup Hotelogix - part of the founding team – for 7 years before joining CloudCherry as VP Online Business. Incubated and managed the Inbound Sales team of Hotelogix for International markets like North America and South America. Maansi also managed remote and consultative sales for markets ranging over 80 countries and strategized and reduced sales cycle cost of acquiring customers.

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