Increasingly, HR practitioners are keen on the circular relationship between employee experience, employee satisfaction, customer experience and brand loyalty. Renowned as the promoter flywheel, this relationship shows how a satisfied employee and a satisfied client are two sides of the same coin. In other words, delight your staff with experiences that enhance their employee engagement, to create satisfied customers, delight them, and achieve 2.5x revenue.
I was scheduled to meet an employee to address a bad call that the employee had taken up earlier that day. It was informed that the employee had lost his cool during the call and ended up yelling at a customer.
Does this sound familiar?
Anyway, the meeting started. I commenced it by summarizing the incident and all throughout, the employee’s body language reflected nervousness and agitation. I decided to approach this discussion with empathy and let him know what my intent was. I repeated that this meeting was to understand what led to the employee behaviour under discussion, instead of judging or concluding on it.
The employee eventually opened up and confessed that immediately before the call, there had been an unprofessional discussion between the employee and his manager. It was about the employee’s performance, who, while generally is a good performer, had recently not been at his best.
The employee went on to report that apparently, the manager resorted to inconsiderate and poor choice of words. Which in turn, made the employee feel belittled and unwanted. The manager reportedly even went on to say that there was no value that the employee is adding to the company. And even said that it would not make any difference even if the employee quits.
What was the impact of this event?
A lost opportunity in all sense. A disappointed employee, an irate customer, a high-level executive escalation and a bad taste for all those who became part of this situation.
Internal happiness (intrinsic) leads to a peaceful mind and hence a productive day (extrinsic). Similarly, an engaged workforce (intrinsic) makes employees happy which in turn leads to a great customer experience (extrinsic) and hence happy customers.
So, what is a Great Employee Experience?
Every candidate, while embarking on their journey with an organization, does so with the aspiration of their mutual growth. Alongside this, there are a lot of expectations that they would carry. The way they will be treated, the friends they will make or the way they will contribute to the organization are important . It is this aspiration that if met, leads to great employee experience.
A well-balanced experience is essential during every stage of an employee’s life cycle in an organization. From pre-joining to post-exit, each of stage leads to a fulfilling employee experience, that translates to a greater client experience too. In short, having a strong employee-centric culture leads to client focused delivery.
Over the past few years, good hiring as well as good exit and post-exit experience has been of a high priority. This is in view of the fact that the association doesn’t start with onboarding and end with the last working day. Every organization is a milestone in an employee’s career. And it is their experience with each organization that will decide if they continue to be your brand ambassadors throughout their career.
How to drive Employee Satisfaction Experience ?
1. Make a good first impression
Right from the way a new joiner is greeted to the way they handed over to the manager constitutes of the first impression. Induction should be systematic and seamless. Finally when the employee joins the team, make sure they are aptly welcomed by their colleagues. Everything about creating that first impression , in some way or another can make or mar the brand.
For example, a warm welcome with a goodie bag, a firm handshake and a big smile can really make the new joiner feel welcomed. Some organizations have managers and teams sing the welcome song every time a new joiner enters the team.
2. Help with baby steps
There is a lot of learning and unlearning that happens in the first few months of joining. Be patient! Guide them and help them with this transition. Help them become acquainted with the company culture, narrate stories of organization history, display values in action and so on.
For example, having a 2-3 month extended onboarding program that focuses on basic on the job training would be a good start.
Facilitate team interaction, introduce them to the internal stakeholders, show them around the facility, and constantly keep in touch with their feelings. New joiners with a considerable tenure in their previous organization will tend to compare their new employer to their previous one. As for the freshers and the lateral hires, picking up new employment can be an emotional experience. Deal with it sensitively.
3. Provide support and feedback
Train them for the role, monitor their progress and provide timely and constructive feedback. Foster curiosity and encourage questions. Encourage creative, original ideas that can lead to client-focused process improvements and innovative solutions.
Have a think tank concept in place. Capitalize on the newness of the new employee. Get fresh ideas, ask for feedback, promote healthy debate and give due credit in a team huddle for a good idea.
4. Communicate openly
Be honest in your dealing and be transparent in your communication. Maintain respect whether you opt for a professional or casual manner of communication. For example, set clear, crisp and documented expectations with respect to the task allocation. Maintain the right channel of communication with each employee as appropriate for the situation.
If you need to address a sensitive manner with an employee, do it yourself along with the HR or another stakeholder. Do not dilute the same by indulging in grapevine where the message gets distorted and reaches the employee ineffectively.
5. Enable learning
Promote the culture of learning. Encourage the concept of self-growth. It is good to have managers who focus on the growth and achievements of their teams. For example, assign projects and encourage the employees to take periodic skill development programs. Relate these programs back to their performance, and make it part of their KRA.
It is important to ensure that the knowledge gained is absorbed correctly and transmitted back at work. One great way is to ask the employees to share their learnings with other team members via presentations, white papers or case studies. This, in turn, will inculcate a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration. Additionally, it will enhance their verbal and written communication skills, and teach them more about partnering, and teamwork.
A Gallup study found that teams that invested in employee development witnessed their sales double in comparison to teams that did not.
6. Hear them out
If you don’t, somebody else will. This could be your potential client, your competitor, social media or other avenues. Have ample channels to capture employee feedback, pulse, suggestion, concerns and appeals.
Xoxoday Empuls for instance, offers a wide range of modes such as pulse, employee satisfaction or employee feedback survey. Depending on the need, the survey can also be made anonymous.
Suggestion boxes are yet another way to capture employee thoughts instantly. If you are moving around the campus and you find something to share – a suggestion box would be handy. Writing to the Executives, Whistleblower, Ombuds are some of the other channels that allow the employees to report sensitive matters to the right person.
7. Reward & recognize
Celebrate wins – small and big. Share credit. It doesn’t matter how small or big the reward denomination is, what matters is how neutrally, timely and correctly it is done.
A great manager becomes great because of a great team. They are successful if their teams are successful.
For example, Reward vouchers are a great way to instantly recognize your employee’s hard work. It also helps you keep in mind the interest of an employee and pick a gift voucher accordingly. This personalization shows the care for the employee and the efforts you put in to pick the right voucher for your team.
Make them a celebrity, bring them to the limelight, announce their wins on the intranet wall. This boosts their confidence and makes them feel valued.
8. Foster an employee-centric culture
This point covers all the above and much more than that. It talks about the involvement of the leadership team and having employee centricity in the organization’s core. Define the values around it and drive it from the top!
Having an employee-centric culture will ensure that the focus will always remain on employee satisfaction, their well being, and hence, success in the team. It will balance what an employee puts in and what they get as output towards their personal growth. Having an employee-centric culture will ensure that aspects of their health, well being, fun, logistic support are all focused on. It enables the employee to deliver with passion and perseverance.
“Companies with a highly engaged workforce report experiencing a 19.2 percent growth in operating income over a 12-month period.”
Proving that Employee Satisfaction Leads to Customer Satisfaction
Gartner research states that “Customer Experience (CX) is the new marketing battlefront.” 90 percent of the companies compete on customer experience.
If it is hard to sell, sustaining the sale that results in a satisfied customer is 10 times harder. With an enhanced focus on customer satisfaction, the need for making employees happy and for them to have a wholesome work experience is extremely important.
A study by Dr. Paul Warner shows that employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction and by an R factor (correlation coefficient) of .431. To better understand this equation, the below graph shows how customer loyalty changes with improving employee engagement.
The same study qualitatively mapped the customer satisfaction responses against the satisfaction responses of the employees who served these customers. The results saw how both these values were reflective of each other.
Some examples of how a disengaged employee can impact customer experience –
- If not trained well, they can provide incorrect or misleading information to the customer which impacts negatively on customer happiness.
- Without discipline and focus on customer happiness, issues raised by customers can be handled shabbily.
- Having a bad working atmosphere will lead to a high churn rate. Every time a customer finds a new support representative, it impacts the credibility of the service provider as an employer.
- We have seen instances of employees writing an escalation to the customer complaining about their employee.
- Client sensitive information can be mishandled, and more.
“79 percent of employees with above average customer experience are highly engaged in their jobs”.
Companies investing in employee experience are four times more profitable than those who don’t. An organization ideally is a group of satisfied employees that come together to work towards organisational development. It is the people who create the foundation of any organization.
If an organization wants to sustain in a competitive world, thrive with success, make their mark, attract great talent, enhance retention then it is a necessity to invest in their brand ambassadors, i.e. their satisfied employees.
Work on the Employee Experience, and THEY, your employees, will in turn take care of Customer Experience