What company do you like to buy from again and again? How did your last experience with them make you feel? Feelings and behaviours are closely tied. Make sure your employees and customers know how special and important they are.
Individuality Is Important
Everyone feels special when their uniqueness is recognized and celebrated.
In the past, organizations focused on long-service celebrations for employees. That doesn’t really cut it anymore. Employees move around too much, and that recognition isn’t tied to the individual or their contribution. Many workplace birthday celebrations have become generic too, with monthly celebrations rather than individual ones.
How About a Different Approach?
Consider marking employees’ more personal milestones such as marriages, births and new homes. Another option is to take a less sugary approach to birthdays: honour employees with the day off. If staffing your operation is tricky, have the manager and employee determine a day during that month that works for all.
For work accomplishments, in addition to providing positive feedback in a timely manner, make recognition personal. To make appropriate choices, the manager responsible needs to know the individual well. For example, a foodie may be thrilled to receive a gift certificate to a great new restaurant. Give the same thing to an employee with a lot of food sensitivities, and they may feel invisible on a personal level.
You could even combine work and personal recognition. After working extended hours on a major purchase announcement just before I got married, my VP gave me a gift certificate for my husband and I to enjoy a couple of days at a bed and breakfast. It was the perfect recognition!
Companies are gathering more data than ever before on customers. Use it to tailor your offers to them and give them what they want. It’s great service and personalization at the same time. On the other hand, if you don’t take advantage of the opportunities that data provides, you may be failing in your customer service.
If your business has less customer data or depends more on in-person service, teach staff the value of asking questions. It provides the same opportunity to tailor what you do, while also showing an interest in customers.
Address your customers by name. It shows you see them as individuals – not just a number on a call centre board. Think back to the first time you went to Starbucks, and they not only asked your name, but also called you by name when your order was ready.
Make It a Memorable Experience
Long after employees have moved on and customers have forgotten what they bought, they’ll remember how you made them feel.
For both employees and customers, think about the experience they have with your organization online, on the phone and in-person. The approach, the language, the visuals, the demeanour and actions of leaders and employees all contribute to the experience.
The tone from leaders and the values of your organization set the stage for positive, memorable experiences. The experience employees create for customers will be an extension of how they feel – for better or worse.
- If their experience is positive, that will pass on to customers.
- If they feel trusted to do the right thing, that will benefit customers.
- If you provide them with guidance on how to do their job, rather than specify what to do, employees and customers will have a more positive experience.
Here are a few examples of guidance to empower employees:
- Starbucks offers employees decision-making tips to help them live the values of the company.
- When I worked at national insurer Maritime Life, the company stood by the statement at the conclusion of its values document: “If it’s good for your customer, and you know it makes sense, then do it.”
- In recent training I offered on communication and customer service for a client, employees helped develop guidelines for their new role with customers. From there, the company trusted them to use their good judgement.
Trust is a key cornerstone of the experience. Companies that trust their employees don’t need a long list of rules. Give customers the benefit of the doubt too. Most of them are not “gaming the system.”
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
What Does It Mean to You?
You need to know what your employees and customers need and want, and when. That means engaging with employees, and doing customer research.
The impact of your efforts will multiply. Remember in today’s world news – good or bad – travels fast, and communication about your company comes from many sources.
Be purpose-driven and values-based. The true colours show in the decisions made by leaders and the daily actions of managers. They are the ultimate guide for employees.
When a leader says, “Our people are our most important resource” – that doesn’t mean you have to choose. It applies to both customers and employees.