Businesses exist to do only one thing – “Make Money”. Even Non-profit organisations need constant cash flow to reach their target. So how does a company become profitable? The answer lies in the making both employees and customers happy. Lot of research have been done in this field and we can safely say that both of these are linked. Here are some of the studies that prove this:
- A study conducted by Washington State University says that customer satisfaction is directly connected with employee satisfaction and customers give utmost priority to their financial success.
- According to Journal of Services Marketing, employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction.
- As per a study done by Bain & Company, employee behavior & attitude is one of the primary components of customer satisfaction. Loyal and satisfied employees are efficient in delivering the best product and service to customers.
Traditionally companies have tried to run various employee engagement programs with the hope that they would result in low attrition rate and eventually result in better customer service. So businesses deploy incentive programs, create social groups, organise team outings, buy foose ball tables and do much more.
Gone are the days when companies just created a place where employees needed to work. In the modern age employees hold the power to choose the employer and the competitive digital age has left companies to fight with each other to get the best talent. Now companies are vying to create a place where people would want to work.
While the traditional approach listed above generates employee engagement, it has a tendency to create engagement in only specific set of employees and leave the disengaged in solitude. The problem lies with the way we look at engagement. For example: companies run various incentive programs like granting special privileges to the Employee of the Month, fully paid holiday trip to the Most Productive Employee, stock options with vesting period and the widely used commission based compensation for sales reps. It doesn’t matter what kind of incentive the company is providing – these programs tend to become mundane over the period of time, as they induce a temporary compliance from the employees. The moment incentive is gone, the behavior also changes and people are back to their original self. Incentives can not change the attitudes that drive our behaviors and they are certainly not capable to of creating a long lasting commitment.
It’s time to concentrate on employee experience instead of employee engagement.
It is all about focusing on the complete life-cycle and covering all the touch points – starting with how employees first discover and apply for an opportunity at the company and ending with their departure. This is a much needed change in the mindset. There is a reason why employees are called internal customers and it’s time companies start treating them as the same.
The first thing that we need to do is look at the way we operate the business, create policies and deal with customers from the employee’s view point rather than just thinking of ways to engage employees with the organisation. It goes a long way to understand what employees actually value the most and what exactly matters to them. In order to have a significant impact, employers will need to find different ways to connect to each employee and truly integrate personal growth with the growth of the company. Conducting eNPS, checking out the reviews of the company on sites like Glassdoor can give you direction and help you measure the employee experiences. Then the company can go on to transform the part that needs enhancement, introduce one minor changes or add several small experiences in the employee lifecycle. It varies from organisation to organisation – while Google is engineer’s playground and the work may not always be tied to business outcome, at Amazon everything that an employee does is closely associated with customer benefit.
Removing the mental barrier to treat employees as customers and providing a fulfilling employee experience has become all the more important with the advent of new age tech. It has become easier for recruiters to poach employees simply by connecting with them via LinkedIn. Platforms like Upwork, Uber, Postmates, Etsy, Lyft, Airbnb have already given people the choice to earn a living in a non-traditional way. So focusing on employee experience is the way to go, if companies want to make sure that their employees give them a long-term commitment.
Earlier in Four Seasons Hotels whenever a customer complained about the room, the housekeeping team used to first connect with the manager before taking any action. That was a major problem, as the customer would be expecting swift resolution of the issue. And this led to longer response time resulting in frustrated customer. Four Seasons empowered their lower level employees by allowing them to judge the situation and comp the room immediately. This is type of authority to take decisions at different levels of the organisation can be a great strategy.
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods considers “team” as the supreme driving force. They have built self-directed teams who frequently meet to resolve issues and recognize individual contributions. As a company they believe in the following -“open book, open door and open people practices”. Employees have been given free hand to select new team members for a four-week observation period. To join as a permanent employee, new employees must get green signal from the two third of the team members after the trial period. Apart from this, full-time employees get additional benefits like health insurance, a 20% discount on merchandise and extra cash by distributing the departmental savings among themselves. Their team-based and team-first culture fosters loyalty and accountability for each another, which finally translates to customer satisfaction.
T-Mobile has started releasing the insights about the jobs that the prospective employees are applying for along with the time period for which that opportunity has been open and number of applications they have received. They have also re-written majority of the job description in just plain, vanilla English without any legal and marketing tone. This is indeed an important step towards setting the right experience even before people get into the whole hiring process.
Any company that delivers world case customer experience, delivers great employee experience as well. Critically analyse your business strategy through the eyes of your people and make it a priority to empower them. Everything that the employee comes across constitutes the employee experience – right from the food in the cafeteria, the technologies used in the work to the office environment. The whole idea is about providing an atmosphere of empowerment that leads to wholesome job experiences along with traditional benefits. At the end of the day let’s just think about one thing – are we providing the type of employee experience that will allow our people to deliver the best possible customer experience?