In any pursuit to transform customer experience, there is one important element to always consider: employee experience. CX transformation isn’t something that happens overnight or behind a closed-door discussion. Employing a customer-first focus means cross-company change at every level, including the individual employee level.
Many organizations have embraced the philosophy that happy customers rely on happy employees. In this spirt, let's discuss a few ways that you can engage your employees.
1. Celebrate Your Employees with Great Company Culture
A few years ago, if you’d seen the title “Director of Cultural Engagement” you would have been left scratching your head. Today, companies are embracing their engagement of employees to a new level. A bit more meat-y than your RA’s half-assed bulletin board in your old college dorm, HR and captains of cultural engagement at companies are now not only in charge of keeping tabs on morale, but also driving that morale.
But what is "company culture"? And what's the right way to celebrate it? Believe it or not, there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to celebrate company culture. If, for example, your company culture becomes exclusionary, it's time to reevaluate your policies.
Company culture thrives on diversity. Your company culture should always have the ability to change and shift over time to adapt to changing demographics. If you fill a company with everyone who thinks, dresses, and acts like you, you'll fall down a rabbit hole of static ideas and limited innovation.
There are a ton of great examples of companies who have found unique ways to engage with their employees.
Here's a few examples of what some big name are doing:
At Groupon, no work anniversary goes unnoticed. Every time a new work anniversary rolls around, employees are gifted with green, personalized Adidas jackets. Each jacket displays a one-of-a-kind nickname for each employee. From "GroupieGroupon" to "GrouponMom", oh the possibilities are endless.
Beyond providing some killer discounts for employees, L.L. Beanies get to enjoy some awesome excursions like kayaking, camping, hiking, and more using, you guessed it, L.L. Bean equipment.
You’ve probably heard of some of the interesting initiatives coming out of Zappos. The first of which kicks off on their onboarding process. Zappos is totally dedicated to creating a common excitement of culture, to the point that they will literally PAY new employees ($2,000) to quit after the first week if they decide Zappos isn’t for them. While this is a rather controversial step, Zappos has found that in doing so, they have taken on a more passionate staff.
I know what you're thinking: it’s easy for companies with seemingly limitless budgets like Google to offer free trips, booze, etc., to keep their employees happy and attract top talent. You’re right. Blowing through your budget on excursions for your employees isn’t the best idea when you’re balancing a small business' books.
But, there are a lot of ways to celebrate your employees, whether that’s getting together with departments on a weekly basis to talk strategy, recognizing employees with small rewards, or having “pizza” Fridays. On a more operational scale, implementing policies that are supportive of your employees, such as being open to feedback, offering opportunities for growth, and helping them maintain their work/life balance are some of the best ways to demonstrate your support of the diverse office culture.
2. Provide Employees with the Skills and Tools to Succeed
Don’t throw your employees to the wolves without the proper equipment. One of the biggest complaints employers receive when chasing down feedback is that employees often feel they don't have the proper tools in place to effectively handle their work. Providing your employees with a toolkit to streamline their work process not only improves their daily work, but also your bottom line.
Frontline employees are often called on to react in real-time when it comes to customers. If you’re using a Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Net Promoter System (NPS) you should implement processes to help the frontline more efficiently work with customers that are at-risk.
For example, companies like our client Areas implement automatic workflows and one-touch fire-fighting to escalate issues quickly. With automated workflows, Areas can assign employees to certain cases to ensure the right people are on the job. Employees can then use “fire-fighting” tools to manage case tracking for workflows to ensure no at-risk customers slip through the cracks.
For many frontline employees, this ability to resolve issues quickly not only improves their performance, but also their morale in knowing they are making a difference.
This is just one example of how companies are setting their employees up for success. The other side of this is offering proper training to support skill-building. Many companies are using initiatives like "buddy systems" and "mentorships" where top management reaches out to individual employees to guide them in best practices. This personalized "buddy system" helps build skill sets and navigate employees to succeed within the company.
3. Give Employees a Voice and Take It Seriously
Just like your customers, your employees want to be heard. In large organizations, it can often feel like you’re constantly fighting for the ear of management when it comes to delivering feedback.
By surveying your employees, you can get an accurate picture of sentiment and tap into the talent and innovation that each employee brings to the table.
At CustomerGauge, we use employee Net Promoter, or eNPS. This allows our clients to establish anonymous surveys so employees feel comfortable providing feedback. Our research has found that surveying via NPS 3-4 times a year with your employees (around once every quarter) helps avoid employee burnout and reduce turnover.
Remember though: simply surveying your employees isn’t enough. It’s important to act on the responses you receive. Even if it’s as simple as sending out an email on some of the more popular issues found in your surveys:
“Hi all, We’ve heard from a lot of you that you’re not enjoying the current unhealthy options in the breakroom. As of today, we’re happy to announce that we’ll be ditching the preservative and high-cal snacks of the past and opening a fresh fruit stand spear-headed by one of our very own employees…”
If an employee does choose to engage based on their feedback and discuss further with management, they can wave anonymity to discuss with their manager directly.
Over $11 billion dollars is lost to employee turnover each year in the US alone. Studies have frequently shown that engaging employees in these three ways lead to reduced turnover, improved performance, and better customer experience.
Now that you’ve learned best practices for engaging with your employees, it's time to brush up on how you can reduce turnover among your own customers. Check out our free eBook on why retention matters and how to avoid customer turnover.