Are Your Customer Growth Initiatives Missing A Critical Component?
First appeared as a Forbes Coaches Council article on March 28, 2018.
While on the surface, a customer-first culture seems like the most obvious way to drive business growth, it usually backfires. Most of these initiatives result in employees feeling like their ideas and feedback are not valued, even if their ideas and feedback are directly from the customers they work with every day.
To create better customer engagement and the related revenue you desire, put your employees first. Employees often observe customer needs that are not necessarily voiced, and without them, you will completely miss out on opportunities to improve your business.
Happy Employees Lead To Happy Customers
Engaged employees are less stressed, more innovative and provide better customer service. They are more invested in your company and more likely to come up with opportunities to improve customer engagement. They are also less likely to hide or complain about issues, and instead, they create proactive solutions for customers and overall business success.
Companies and business units with excellent employee engagement outperform others time and again in productivity and customer service. Employees who feel heard, believe their skills are being developed and know they have a career path within your company are the ones who go out of their way to build great customer experiences and consequently help grow your business.
Happy Employees Lead To Higher Revenue
Happy employees make happy customers, which makes happy shareholders. With a combination of high employee engagement and customer engagement, you will drive more profitability in your business.
Just put yourself in your employees’ shoes: When you feel appreciated and believe your company invests in your ongoing development, you are more engaged with your work, more focused on doing the right thing for the company and more likely to collaborate with others to do the right thing for customers. When so-so employees feel under-appreciated, they become disengaged and less productive. When high-performing employees feel under-appreciated, they start looking for other opportunities — with your competitors!
Empower your employees to make good decisions, innovate and be their best self at work, and you’ll reap the reward. Employee engagement and customer engagement is not a chicken-egg scenario. If customer engagement is first, eventually both employee and customer engagement will suffer. If genuine employee engagement comes first, customer engagement follows and so does profitable business growth.
An Employee-First Culture Reduces Recruitment Costs
Organizations with high employee engagement see better retention than those with low engagement. According to a February 2017 Gallup study, “Slightly more than half of employees (51%) say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings,” which shouldn’t surprise us as only “33% of employees are engaged in their jobs.”
A people-first culture breeds engaged employees who want to stay at your company. Those same people tell their friends about how great it is to be your employee. You not only reduce the cost of turnover, but you also lower the cost of finding new recruits, all while keeping the great employees who already know what your customers want and need.
Making The Transformation To A People-First Organization
Transforming culture doesn’t happen overnight. Take a look at where your company stands today. If you feel your business development team isn’t delivering the results you desire, it’s a red flag that you need to increase your focus on people initiatives. If your employees are disengaged, overly stressed or don’t feel valued by leadership, you need to act immediately. If you aren’t sure whether your employees are engaged or not, don’t fool yourself: They aren’t. In either case, to make a difference in your profitability and customer experience, design a multiyear roadmap to get your culture on track, then enhance your plan year by year.
Create some “quick wins” that demonstrate your new focus on employee engagement, and be sure to demonstrate long-term commitment — both verbally and financially — to this being the way you do business this year, next year and forever more.
If your company already has a pretty good employee experience to build upon, take a look at what you can do even better. Enlist the support of experts in employee-customer engagement to optimize the employee experience and how they address your customer needs.
If you feel that your head of HR is a strategic business thinker, empower that person to invest appropriately and be sure you visibly support the new way of doing business. If you aren’t sure if your head of HR is a strategic business thinker, hire an external advisor to help your organization make that transition. Even in a positive, best-case environment, the transition to a people-first culture is difficult, and you need the perfect team who understands both people development and business results to lead the way.
Investing in people is the most cost-effective customer growth strategy. Developing your people creates a more positive environment for everyone, improves customer engagement and optimizes overall productivity and profits.