Organizations are fond of saying “Our people are our most valuable resource.” But, do they make the most of that resource – in practice? Lots of them do not. The result: a Gallup study found that only 13% of employees worldwide are “engaged” at work – “committed and making positive contributions.”
Employees can bring so much more to companies:
- Their broad knowledge and experience
- Their connections
- Their talents and enthusiasm
Tapping into Knowledge and Experience
The more a company grows, the further the CEO and other leaders get from customers. Some do make the effort to stay as close as possible – think that show Undercover Boss. Even then, it’s unlikely they get the same knowledge and experience as other front-line employees when they interact with customers. The knowledge employees gain from their breadth of experience with customers is often an untapped resource.
Give some thought to the opportunities you provide for employees to share their knowledge and experience. Is there room for improvement? Consider:
- How to involve them in increasing your understanding of the experience of customers – what they like, don’t like, and how they use your product or service
- How to include them in planning – at an early impactful stage, without necessarily giving up your decision-making authority
- How to support them in identifying and sharing their own needs in the workplace – rather than assuming what they need, find out from the source
You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management. ~ Howard Schultz,CEO Starbucks Coffee
Hearing Employees Give Voice to Your Company
Your employees are not only the face of your company; they are also the “voice of the company.” To customers, there is no distinction between Paul who spoke to them on the phone and the company as a whole.
That’s why it’s so important to understand how employees “voice” the company to customers. Whether service is provided in person, by phone, online chat, email or via social media, employees are leaving an impression. You need to know what kind of impression they’re creating and what that tells customers about your company. There are ways to gain that information, including secret shoppers. But, in most cases it’s easier to:
- Take a look at – or listen to – a sample of interactions
- View your latest quality surveys or customer satisfaction results
- Ask employees about how they are doing things
Then, consider how well it is – or is not – aligned with your brand, vision and values. And if it’s more like an abstract painting than a reproduction, don’t look to lay blame. Look to solutions. You’ll need to figure out where things are going off the rails and how to get them back on. A thorough needs assessment, and some training based on your culture and the self-identified needs of your employees, is a great start!
Reaping the Reputational Benefits or Reaping Your Reputation?
Another place where the way your employees “voice” the company has a great impact is your reputation. This goes well beyond customers too. Think of the last time you spoke to someone who raved about what a great company they work for. Did it make you want to work there? Or suggest it to someone else? Employees who attract other great employees are a resource that pays itself back by saving on the cost of recruiting, firing and recruiting again!
You know how the other version works: whine, complain, and scare away potential employees and customers!
How will you feel about that if the complaints are justified?
Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability. ~ Anne Mulcahy, former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox
A Winning Voice
Organizations that listen to their employees get the best out of their employees. When employee are provided the opportunity to give their best, everyone wins.
- The employer gets more done, and done well, and attracts better people.
- The employees feel like their contribution is more meaningful.
- Customers/clients – get a better experience and come away with positive impression.
I think employees are the key to success, affecting productivity, customer experience, reputation and the bottom line. I’d love to talk about how to help you partner more effectively with your employees – get in touch.