According to Accenture’s 2016 Global Pulse Consumer Research report, almost half of customers say that they are willing to pay more for products and services if they receive a higher level of customer service. In response to this and other similar findings, companies are investing in their customer service engines in order to build their brands and improve customer loyalty by focusing on who they are selling to versus what they are selling.
[bctt tweet=”Could your HR team learn from your customer support team in order to foster employee engagement?” username=”reflektive”]
Just as sales teams used to be focused exclusively on the products they were selling, HR departments continue to stay grounded in programs and processes versus the people those systems are in place to train and develop. But what if HR embraced the new “customer”-centric approach that companies benefiting from on the sales side? Could your HR team learn from your customer support team in order to foster employee engagement? The answer is: Unequivocally, yes!
Here are four concepts you can steal from your customer support team in order to improve employee engagement.
1. Show Your Appreciation
Do you get a holiday card from your dentist office? Does it make you feel more inclined to schedule that 6-month check up that you used to loathe? Even the smallest shows of appreciation can garner loyalty amongst customers. The same principle applies to your employees.
Anne Mulcahy, former VP of HR at Xerox, observed, “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
The data supports her observation. A 2014 study from Boston Consulting Group survived over 200,000 people around the world researching what employees care about at work. BCG found that the #1 factor for employee happiness on the job is being appreciated for their work. Similarly, Best Companies Group’s Best Places to Work surveys stated, “Study after study shows a connection between contented employees and a thriving bottom line.”
So, let your people know you appreciate who they are and what they do, and do it regularly. Keep in mind that different people like to be appreciated differently. Some prefer hearing the words of appreciation; others feel appreciated when their manager chooses to spend time with them; others prefer gifts or events like holiday parties; and still others like a simple pat on the back. In this area, remember that even the little things matter!
2. Ask For Feedback
Amazon set the standard when it comes to leveraging customer feedback in order to provide value over the competition. By embracing both positive and negative feedback, Amazon excels at fostering repeat customers through a foundation of trust and loyalty.
Just as the best customer support teams seek feedback from customers, your HR team and managers can earn the trust and loyalty of employees (the holy grail for employers these days) by asking them what they think. In addition, acquiring employee feedback will enable you to collect data, thus taking a more analytical approach to your employee engagement and people development.
It can be a challenge to gather honest feedback. Some rules of thumb from Harvard Business Review: ask in person (do away with those anonymous suggestion boxes), and ask constantly; pose specific questions and request examples; read between the lines; and, perhaps most importantly, follow up and act upon it. Google embraced this process and developed a number of avenues for employees to provide feedback in the way that makes them most comfortable.
3. Provide Value
When you go to a store, you exchange money for value, whether it’s a yoga class or a pair of sneakers. Each of these stores has competition, so on top of showing their appreciation for your business, they must provide the value that you seek. Similarly, there is an employee job market. Your employees can seek employment wherever they want in today’s increasingly competitive talent market. So on top of appreciating their input and work, you must provide value of your own.
This value is most obviously provided in the form of compensation. However, more than 70 percent of today’s workforce is driven by opportunities to develop skills and drive change, so compensation alone is not enough. It is therefore critical to offer value in other ways as well, such as providing strong communication, work-life balance, and career growth opportunities. Don’t be afraid to get creative based on the unique values of your employees!
4. Document Their Accomplishments
In a way, this last strategy brings us back to square one: showing appreciation. Sometimes the most powerful way of showing employees you care is by documenting their accomplishments. For example, some companies allow employees to nominate their colleagues, employees, and managers for a Star Award or some other form of recognition, which is shared with the company to recognize great work.
Customer service and sales teams use client relationship management (CRM) platforms so that even if staff changes, the organization will still know the history of its clientele: what they’ve bought before, their communication preferences, etc. This ensures that your customer will feel equally loved by your organization no matter what internal changes occur.
Consider leveraging similar “employee relationship management” documentation systems for your employees. This will prevent any employees from slipping through the cracks. For example, maybe you hired a star employee but s/he has had five managers in three years. This lack of continuity might impact the employee’s progression, but it won’t be captured in annual reviews. On the contrary, frequent check-ins or real-time feedback that is documented, will. Incorporating self-directed goal setting – where employees can list their goals and fulfilled accomplishments – will allow employees’ voices to be heard by both new managers and your compensation team when making promotion and salary-related decisions.
[bctt tweet=”The most powerful way to show employees you care is by documenting their accomplishments” username=”reflektive”]
Adjusting your approach to improve employee experience just as you would seek to provide a great customer experience will not go unnoticed. With nearly 80 percent of respondents rating employee experience as “very important” in a recent Deloitte study, making the mental shift to view your employees as the “customer” will ultimately lead to improved morale, motivation, and performance across the board.
Learn how feedback programs can drive culture and engagement. Watch our webinar to see how Quantcast built a culture of trust and collaboration.