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In Part 1, Peter wrote about revisiting your corporate engagement initiatives to identify areas of improvement and to ensure that you have buy-in across the board for any change initiatives.
In Part 2 of this series, Peter takes a look at the next area of your customer experience strategy that will likely require some spring cleaning: employee engagement, which is all about hiring the right people and giving them the tools to do the job they were hired to do. It’s also about empowering employees to do the right thing for and by the customer in order to deliver a great customer experience.
With that, I hand it over to Peter to give his thoughts on spring cleaning requirements around employee engagement.
You’ve heard it said many times that engaged employees create engaged customers. I won’t harp on that here, but what I will emphasize is taking a bolder stand against behaviors that deteriorate your strategy. E Source considers employee engagement to mean that a utility recruits, develops, and retains employees to create a culture that reinforces customer-centric behaviors and advances the CX strategy.
Here are some quick ideas – listed in chronological order – to build a stronger bridge to the front line:
- Take a stroll in the frontline’s shoes. Put a half day aside and go to the contact center, field team, or sales team and ask them to let you do their job for a few hours. Put on the headset and answer some calls. They will love you for appreciating the challenges they have and for being brave enough to get down in their trenches. The purpose of this is several-fold; you will: 1) receive street cred with the employees who create (and destroy) value for your customers; 2) find even more quick wins that employees haven’t been successful at elevating; 3) not only have a stronger appreciation for the work they do but will also have the chance to clearly identify operational challenges they face daily in delivering a great customer experience; 4) quickly identify tools, resources, and training that are clearly lacking for your employees; and 5) find opportunities to coach but also opportunities for praise and recognition.
- Name-drop gratitude from customers. This is a great tool to use with those departments that are giving you the cold shoulder. Find the individual names of highly-satisfied or loyal customers in verbatims that come from your transactional surveys. Without permission, start blasting e-mails directly to those employees, with the verbatim attached. Copy their boss and one more layer up. Thank them for creating great experiences, and ask them to share what they recall from the laudatory interaction. The idea here is to promote the good before you come stomping through with the bad. Bosses will start to soften up and wonder who else on their team is doing such great work.
- Drop the hammer on managers who allow or encourage employee gaming on surveys. We all know that surveys are dying in 5 to 10 years, but we don’t need to accelerate that demise by propagating discouraging and unethical practices. Recently I received two voice mails from a local car dealership that made me feel awkward and obligated to give employees high marks. The messages tell me that the company doesn’t really know how to empower employees because if it did, employees wouldn’t feel threatened by the “score.” Have a listen, and you’ll know where the cringing occurs.
Thanks, Peter. Yes, that practice continues! It drives me (and everyone else) crazy, but it really means that these dealerships are only focused on the score and not on the experience. Shame on them for perpetuating this behavior by threatening a reduced or minimal commission for low scores. Dealerships are not the only ones guilty of this behavior, but they are certainly the most notorious. It must stop. How about focusing on giving employees the tools and training to deliver a great customer experience? Let’s empower them to do the right thing rather than threaten their livelihood. Time for the automotive industry, especially, to change its course!
As mentioned in Part 1, at the end of the three-part series, we’ll provide a link to E Source’s Customer Experience Readiness Assessment tool, which will help you identify both where your organization stands on CX maturity as well as what actionable next steps are required to achieve your CX goals.
I enjoy the cleaning up – something about the getting of things in order for winter – making the garden secure – a battening down of hatches perhaps… It just feels right. -David Hobson