Customer satisfaction and employee engagement are intertwined issues that cannot be simplified as just a hiring issue. There are actually four employee engagement environments that you should start investing in, which will be a direct investment into customer satisfaction.
Forbes recently published an article by Customer Experience Futurist Blake Morgan that really got our attention. She draws the direct line between customer service and customer experience very clearly in this infographic.
One of the most interesting stats of the many presented on this infographic is that “89% of companies surveyed plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience.” (Gartner)
But as leadership guru and author Simon Sinek says in a video embedded below, “There’s no CEO on the planet who’s responsible for the customer. They’re just not. They’re responsible for the people who are responsible for the people who are responsible for the customer.”
Chew on that, but then consider at the same time that “a 2014 customer study shows that 87% of the [Starbucks’] brand affinity is driven by the way Starbucks treats its employees.” (Vision Critical)
Customer satisfaction and employee engagement are not separate issues. They also cannot be simplified as just a hiring issue either.
Just 10 seconds after delivering the above quote, Simon Sinek gives a great anecdote in the talk below that illuminates the issue.
If you don’t have time to watch, put briefly, Sinek met a charming, hardworking barista named Noah who put in mornings at the Four Seasons. Sinek asked him if he liked his job, and without missing a beat, Noah replied, “I love my job.” But Noah followed that up saying that he works nights at Caesar’s Palace, where management is hawkish rather than helpful, and he keeps his head down, stays quiet, and simply attends to his basic responsibilities.
“Same person. Entirely different experience for the customer who will engage with Noah.”
Companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those that don’t. This number is culled from the book The Employee Experience Advantage by Jacob Morgan, who interviewed 150 psychologists, economists, and business leaders and analyzed over 250 diverse organizations to analyze the relationship between employee experience and company success.
In the book, he coins the phrase “experiential organizations” to describe those companies who invest heavily in cultural, technological, and physical environments for their employees. In other words, they are committed to employee engagement. Only 6% of all polled companies qualified for this category.
Compared with the other 94%, the experiential organizations had more than four times the average profit and more than two times the average revenue. They were also almost 25% smaller, which suggests higher levels of productivity and innovation.
So what are these investments? How can you get started on the path to joining those top 6% to improve both employee and customer experience? Let’s dive into the three environments.
CULTURAL ENVIRONMENTS FOR EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Jacob Morgan describes the cornerstone of company culture as its own separate mission statement that focuses on the impact your employees have on the world, one that is attainable and not focused on financial goals. It’s emotional in nature, and it’s the emotion behind a goal that can keep employees motivated.
One thing to focus on is supporting your employees so they feel they can do their jobs, and be sure that they know you notice their hard work and performance. Find your balance between training and trust — training will give them the guidelines, tools and confidence in their skills. Trust gives employees the freedom to bring their own personality to everything they do, which is crucial to feeling valued. Without this freedom, you run the risk of employees feeling like cogs in a machine.
In her Forbes article, Blake Morgan gives two different approaches, which illustrate a fantastic balance.
“Each [Starbucks] employee is trained not only on how to make the drinks but also how to interact with customers. The welcoming atmosphere of a Starbucks coffee shop is echoed in the company, where every employee knows they are welcomed and included.”
“Employees at Nordstrom are given just one rule in their employee handbook: “Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.” Instead of being bogged down with corporate guidance, empowered employees know they are trusted and valued. That translates to their interactions with customers and is a large reason why the “Nordstrom Way” of doing customer service is well respected.”
The lesson here is to provide a standard approach but give employees the freedom to inject their own creative energy into the role while serving the end goal.
PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS FOR EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
With increasingly distributed and remote workforces, it’s easy to overlook the importance of the physical environment.
Writing for Workplace Insight, Serena Borghero, Director Media Relations and 360 Communications at Steelcase, lays out the major considerations for creating an environment where employees can feel at home. The simple equation at play here is that the more comfortable your employees are, the more they want to be at work.
Below are just three of Borghero’s action-plan points.
Give employees choice and control over when and how they work:
By accommodating a range of environments, you not only accommodate a range of personalities, but a range of moods and work modes. Though every industry is different, “to avoid [constant distraction], employees should be provided with a variety of spaces that allow concentration and personal focus.”
Create communal spaces for collaboration and informal connections:
On the flipside of quiet space is providing mobility within the office and casual spaces for collaboration and informal connections. Oftentimes departments within an organization communicate merely for functional purposes. Opening up rooms for informal connections, serendipity, and socializing builds an emotional bond among employees, which feeds directly to the emotional connection to your company. After all, for every individual employee, other employees represent “the company” as much as the CEO does.
Make your brand and company culture visible and give employees permission to be themselves
Space plays a key role in “a culture of trust, where employees feel they belong to the community and are free to express their ideas.” Here, Borghero focuses on how leadership spaces factor into culture and engagement. The leadership team spaces must be designed with the same balance of private and social areas, and the way leadership moves and works will provide cues to employees as to how free they should feel.
TECHNOLOGICAL ENVIRONMENTS FOR EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Like physical environment, the technological environment is largely contingent on your industry and workforce. The business goals of incorporating technology are, of course, to aid with day-to-day job functions and increase productivity. But the employee engagement goals boil down to flexibility, freedom, collaboration, open communication, and reducing the friction between an employee and a job well done.
“To the extent that you want certain principles to be a bedrock of your organizational culture, that means you have to make them available to people every time,” says Jordan Birnbaum, VP and chief behavioral economist at ADP. “Technology offers an opportunity to make sure that the organization’s intentions for the kind of culture it wants are communicated with regularity. If a company establishes that collaboration is important, how do you support it? What tools facilitate it?”
Technology very easily siloes even employees who are in the same room. Messaging apps like Slack, project management and collaboration tools like Trello or Asana, and company wikis for continuous education are all great for office environments. But even if your workforce isn’t in a single office, building collective resources and connectivity can keep employees engaged with the company and can help new hires get acclimated faster.
Gamify onboarding and training
When companies highlight their company culture on their careers pages, the standard-issue technique is to show employees having fun at offsites, holiday parties, and happy hours. But you can over-deliver on this promise by tweaking training and education programs to be more gamified: light-heartedly competitive, scored in a way that promotes small wins, and incentivizing collaboration and teamwork.
If 43% of workers cite a lack of recognition as one of their biggest sources of unhappiness at work, then I’d say we’ve found something to focus on.
Even with the best of intentions, senior management can get busy and lose focus on giving recognition. It’s inevitable that even the world’s best boss, with all the many employees she has to monitor, will overlook a great performance here and there. Peer-to-peer recognition, like Salesforce Chatter, builds a layer of engagement security that doesn’t let hard work fall through the cracks.
THE FOURTH ENVIRONMENT: FINANCIAL WELLNESS
Reduce work-life stress with financial wellness programs
A fourth environment that we’d like to add is financial wellness. The goal of the three above mentioned environmental investments is to reduce friction between an employee and a job well done, and there’s no greater external source of friction than financial worries.
According to American Psychological Association CEO and Executive Vice President Norman B. Anderson, PhD:
“Regardless of the economic climate, money and finances have remained the top stressor since our survey [Stress in America™: Paying With Our Health] began in 2007. Furthermore, this year’s survey shows that stress related to financial issues could have a significant impact on Americans’ health and well-being.”
To combat this trend, an increasing number of employers are offering financial literacy courses and resources, financial counseling services, and a variety of technological solutions.
At a panel discussion and roundtable from the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program and Economic Opportunities Program, Clint Key, research officer at Pew Charitable Trusts, said that the overwhelming majority of people are mostly seeking financial stability for their families, not economic mobility. All it takes is one financial shock — like a car breaking down or an unexpected illness — to destabilize a household.
Which is exactly why DailyPay was created. Every year, the average American pays $1000 in late fees and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees. Offering a flexible payday solution like ours puts money back in your employees’ pockets, lets them tackle the financial curveballs life throws, and gives them greater control over their finances.
IN CONCLUSION: SHOW THE LOVE
To the 89% of companies out there who plan to compete based on customer service and the 94% who have not reached the status of “experiential organization,” I leave you with this thought from J.W. Marriott:
“Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers.”
This case study is an overview of how Silverback Networks was able to reduce new hire attrition by providing instant access to earned income rather than forcing new hires to wait the full pay period before getting paid.