Building a Lasting Culture of Employee Appreciation

Employee Appreciation Day is recognized on the first Friday in March. While an annual employee appreciation day is nice, building a lasting culture that values employees has a much greater impact. Businesses with a culture that values and engages employees enjoy higher productivity, lower absenteeism, lower turnover and higher profitability. Businesses that successfully build that culture also see positive results with customers. Numerous studies have found a direct link between engaged, happy employees and loyal, happy customers. Studies focused on employee engagement found that engaged employees are willing to go above and beyond for their companies and customers. There are many pieces that must work together to create a productive organizational culture. Here are three practices that build a culture that values and appreciates employees. Ask Employees For Feedback  Employees who interact with customers have a wealth of information about your customers. They are in the best position to understand customers’ likes and dislikes. They also understand how internal processes can be improved to better serve customers. Make employees a valued part of the business by asking them to watch for ways to improve how you interact with and serve customers. Establish methods for employees to regularly and easily share what they know. Value Employee Feedback Asking employees for feedback is not enough. Use the information they share to make changes that improve the experience for customers and for employees! Employees feel valued and appreciated when they see that their feedback is used to improve the organization.   Empower Employees Employees who feel valued, are motivated to go above and beyond to meet customer needs. Let them! Provide training to help employees understand customers as well...

Are Your Surveys Like the Election Polls?

The 2016 presidential election was significant for many reasons. Many feel it may be the most important election of our lifetime. The incredible inaccuracy of the polls stands out as one noteworthy aspect of the election. The political news reporters were shocked and embarrassed by how they blew the prediction of the election outcome. This is a clear demonstration of how decisions can be based on erroneous information. Some of the inherent flaws in polls are similar to problems with surveys. Poll predictions use several factors that are supposed to be representative of the population. Like polls, surveys are the responses from a subset of people who theoretically represent the whole and the results are based on those who are willing to respond. The accuracy declines and results are skewed for several reasons: We are inundated with surveys and, many of us don’t respond, leading to a smaller sample of the whole. I spoke with a business leader recently who was frustrated that only three people out of 750 responded to his company’s survey. His compensation was affected by the satisfaction ratings, but the results were worthless. Customers have been tainted by long surveys with endless pages of questions. No upfront indication of the length or the time it will take to complete result in high abandonment rates. Requests for extensive demographic information may benefit the business but send a message to the customer that the survey is not focused on improving the customer experience. Businesses need on-going customer feedback to continuously improve. So, how do they get it? Business can start by focusing on their customers’ needs, not...

You Can’t Compete Without a Mobile Channel

As I work with businesses on their customer service strategy, it is clear to me that a mobile communication channel is critical to the future success of most businesses. I’m not referring to social media or one-way text platforms. A mobile communication channel is one that offers two-way, real-time interaction by connecting a robust customer care platform to customers who use mobile/text channel. Today, many businesses just don’t make it easy for customers to contact them. Customers are frustrated with the effort required to access cumbersome communication channels businesses offer. 90% of customers are frustrated with being put on hold. 89% are frustrated that they have to repeat their issue to multiple people. 91% are frustrated that they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason. Millennials are an enormous force for change in how we do business and they expect a different interaction with businesses. They make up about half of the workforce and it is estimated that they will spend $200 billion annually by 2017 and $10 trillion over their lifetimes. They expect easy authentic interactions and prefer text over phone calls or emails. Mobile is Conversational A mobile channel enables businesses to have an easy, two-way dialogue with customers. They can engage with customers to learn about their preferences and to keep them informed of updates and changes. A mobile/text channel can help a company reduce customer service costs by 25%. Mobile is Real-Time Businesses can increase response rates and engagement with customers due to timeliness and relevance of the interaction. Mobile communication also provides more accurate customer feedback. And there’s an added...

Which Comes First–Great Employees or Great Service?

Employee engagement receives a great deal of attention. What is meant by that? Employee engagement is broadly considered to be the relationship between an organization and its employees. Employees who are engaged are enthusiastic about their work and actively support the organization. It makes sense then that employee engagement is linked to customer experience. Companies with engaged employees have been found to benefit by increased profits, decreased employee turnover and improved customer experience. According to a recent KPMG study, 70% of engaged employees report having a good understanding of customer experience versus just 17% of disengaged employees. In the same study, companies with engaged employees experienced a 19% increase in income while companies with disengaged employees experienced almost a 33% decrease. Engaged employees work harder for customers, both internal and external, and recommend their company’s products and services. That’s powerful! Create a Culture of Engagement Creating a culture of engaged employees starts with communicating clear goals and expectations. Employees want to know how they contribute to the larger organizational goals and at what level they need to perform to meaningfully contribute. Understanding how they contribute leads to a stronger team environment where employees interact, work together and appreciate how others contribute to the organization. Encouraging innovation engages employees to look for better ways to do things. This is especially true for touch point employees who see first-hand how to improve customer experience. Encourage Open Communication Create an environment of open communication that doesn’t criticize new ideas and setup easy channels for employees’ ideas to surface. Connect actions taken to employee suggestions so employees see and understand how their input...

The Hidden Costs of Bad Customer Service

Businesses can expect to encounter occasional service problems with their customers. It is estimated that U.S. companies lose $83 billion each year due to bad service. Some of the losses are obvious like giving refunds and losing the sale. Other costs may be less obvious but have longer lasting and often more significant impacts. Consider the example of a company that marketed and sold its products and service as the best in the industry. The company had production problems for two consecutive quarters and couldn’t deliver on those promises. Customers received extremely bad service. The hidden costs of the bad service will be felt by this business for several years to come. Internal Conflicts The company’s marketing department portrayed the company as the best in the business with the finest products and the highest level of service. Sales promised the finest products and best service. When operations couldn’t deliver, fingers pointed internally and adversarial relationships developed between departments. The company now has to spend time and resources to rebuild relationships and teamwork within the company. Employee Satisfaction These internal conflicts and haphazard attempts to resolve issues led to poor employee morale and the company is experiencing higher than usual employee turnover. The costs associated with hiring and training are significant. In addition, employee satisfaction is a leading indicator of customer satisfaction. If employees are not satisfied with their workplace, it will negatively affect customer satisfaction as quickly as within one quarter. Sales Process Existing customers are one of the richest sources of new revenue. According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to existing customers is 60-70% versus 5-20% for...