Journey maps, closed loop reporting, next gen technology — CX innovators can spend a lot of their money, time and energy focusing on the customer and searching for outside solutions. But the secret to customer loyalty already resides within your organization. Customer experience starts with your employees.
Studies show a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Engaged employees are more productive, understand the customer better, and are less likely to leave, which reduces turnover and increases the institutional knowledge base.
Employee engagement leads to customer loyalty
Kevin Kruse, author of “Employee Engagement for Everyone” tracked more than 30 studies demonstrating “how engagement correlates to decreases in absenteeism, turnover, accidents, and defects, while it also correlates to increases in customer service, productivity, sales, and profits.” As he explains in “Employee Engagement: The Wonder Drug For Customer Satisfaction,” “the suggested causality is that engagement — the emotional commitment one has to their organization and its goals — drives higher levels of discretionary effort.”
He uses the term “wonder drug” in his article’s title because he found that the relationship dwarfs that of popular medical cures to their corresponding ailments. How strong is the connection compared to common causes we take for granted? To put it in perspective, the correlation between employee engagement and positive CX is three times higher than the effect of ibuprofen on pain reduction.
“Employee engagement could be the biggest challenge facing companies that want to be CX leaders today.”
Disengaged employees undermine customer satisfaction
Unfortunately, not enough organizations are taking the connection between employee engagement and customer satisfaction to heart. Employee engagement is low, especially in the United States. Four out of 10 workers globally are disengaged, notes Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith in her article, “How the Best Places to Work are Nailing Employee Engagement.” Meanwhile, she laments, “70 percent of U.S. workers don’t like their job, creating an environment where many workers are emotionally disconnected from their workplace and less productive than engaged counterparts.” Employee engagement could be the biggest challenge facing companies that want to be CX leaders today.
The front line is your first defense
Ask yourself, “How do we provide our front-line employees with the information, training and authority to improve the customer experience?” Giving frontline employees easy access to the info they need to answer customers’ questions sounds like a no brainer, but according to IDC research, 44 percent of employees can’t find the answer or information they’re looking for, and 61 percent currently have to access four or more systems when looking.
Turn your employees into empowered, educated, customer-problem-solving machines. Give customer-facing employees access to key customer insights to drive more personalized, proactive and predictive engagement. Train them to make decisions and create a culture that encourages autonomous customer care.
How far can successful brands go to empower their employees? The Ritz-Carlton’s policy of $2000 discretion to solve any customer complaint could serve as an instructive example instead of an outlier.
Six Steps to Empower Employees and Drive CX Engagement
So what steps can you take to develop a workforce of engaged employees?
- Surpass surveys: Augment your annual engagement survey with real-time feedback mechanisms.
- Elevate engagement to a business strategy: Connect your employee engagement to customer experience outcomes and improvement such as customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and advocacy.
- Focus on communication: Define a sustainable internal communication effort.
- Individualize the effort: Help employees develop an emotional connection to the brand.
- Focus on the front line manager: Connect to talent strategy and onboarding efforts by turning managers into mentors and coaches.
- Empower front-line employees: Allow your most powerful employees the tools they need to solve customer problems.
Ready to develop and institute an employee empowerment strategy? Let the experts at Baker Tilly Growth Strategies help. Contact a Growth Strategies Advisor to get started.