Guest Blog by Kenny Bain, CEO of Rant & Rave explains the intrinsic link between employee and customer engagement.
With the proliferation of communication channels, customers now have more power and information than ever before, and they expect instant service gratification. This has led to a widening expectation gap with today’s businesses where 61% of customers churned in 2016. More significantly, 81% of those defectors said they could have been saved had the company acted. So, what holds the key to keeping these customers happy? Your employees! Great customer experiences start with great employees. An engaged and motivated workforce are better equipped to deliver high quality customer service.
Companies need to listen to the richest source of insight available to them – their customers; the statistics show that customers are willing to share their feedback, if only they’re given the opportunity.
By investing in a truly customer-centric culture, built around understanding the emotions driving customer behaviour, you can establish a real, competitive advantage. But how do you ensure your team is as customer-focused as it should be?
The key is to create Ravers; not just in your customer base but with your employees too. By investing time in their frontline teams – understanding what drives them and ensuring they’re engaged, businesses will see shifts in the workings of their team. In order to achieve that, employees need to be empowered. There also needs to be a good level of transparency; frontline agents need to be well trained and they need feedback on the service they’re providing. Combined, this gives them better awareness about their role within the organisation and its importance. Employee engagement is key; great customer service starts with great employees, so talk to them, share feedback and help them improve.
Companies must provide for, and support, their staff by installing the right systems. These are what directly affect the service that teams can, and are willing to, deliver. If they feel knowledgeable, positive and empowered, they will be motivated to do the best job they possibly can, meaning customers receive great quality service.
Employee and customer engagement are intrinsically linked. If you think about positive brand experiences you’ve had, it will almost certainly include someone who did something out of the ordinary. Emotions drive the hearts, minds and wallets of customers, and determine whether they’ll become a Raver or defect forever. While many frontline agents will realise that sticking to the script isn’t always the right approach for the customer, the truth is that many are restricted by processes and protocols. While they are encouraged to solve problems for the customer, they’re rarely empowered to do so proactively.
There are four key things that organisations must remember when it comes to employee engagement on the frontline:
Gamification is an approach that helps to improve employee engagement; aligning individual behaviours and characteristics with those of the wider organisation. At its most basic level it involves turning work tasks into games by introducing a healthy level of competition.
There are multiple ways to introduce gamification, a company could install an interactive leader board which ranks employees in terms of performance, or a dashboard that features real-time customer feedback. This type of gamification is fun and interactive, staff can view and assess their own feedback and see where they rank amongst their peers, as well as within their department or the organisation in its entirety. This dashboard can also include the individual attributes that customers are asked to share their views on, for example: attitude, training, knowledge, and speed and quality of service, which allows managers to identify the areas that are performing well and those in need of improvement. This has been proven to improve customer satisfaction, with clients recording significant improvements on how their teams are engaging with customers.
Companies will find it much easier to keep their teams aligned if they share their objectives and strategies. By sharing plans and celebrating achievements together, the whole organisation can get excited and individuals will feel like they are part of the bigger picture. Feeling valued is integral to motivation.
This transparency allows agents to realise their role within the company, allowing them insight into the bigger picture. Taking this approach means that agents will be able to see the feedback that the organisation receives about them – good and bad. With positive feedback they can develop a clearer idea of what customers like about what they’re doing, and conversely with negative responses they can work on those areas in need of improvement.
Empowering frontline agents is about providing them with a clear framework to work within, but with flexibility. It’s not about throwing away the rulebook. The definition of why and how they do things should remain, but they must feel they have some power to use their personal skills to adapt their interactions when necessary.
This approach will enable a greater emotional connection between agents and customers. It’s about giving employees a real sense of purpose and demonstrating to them the power they have in creating great customer experiences. If they feel trusted and have the power to solve problems, companies will see them taking pride in their role and the results will speak for themselves.
Now, I don’t mean you need to hand out medals at the end of every day, but it’s important to recognise agents’ achievements. A simple ‘well done’ will provide a lot of encouragement and reassurance, it tells employees that they’ve done a good job and that they’re doing the right thing. Positivity goes a long way and the satisfaction that celebrating successes will give employees will improve performance all around.
Frontline agents are the key to an organisation’s ability to provide outstanding customer service. If a company develops a comprehensive employee engagement strategy focused around listening to, and empowering agents, then they, in turn, will have the ability and inclination to do what is best for the customer.
Rant & Rave is the UK leader in real-time customer engagement technology. Its real-time technology lets brands proactively communicate with and listen to the voice of their customers so they can take real-time, inspired action.