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How boosting employee engagement can improve customer satisfaction

2nd Sep 2013
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It’s no great secret that higher levels of employee engagement correlates to higher levels of customer satisfaction but are firms really taking this on board and investing in boosting their employees’ experience?

Forrester analyst Sam Stern doesn’t think so. In his report, Sharpen Customer Experience Focus With Employee Engagement, he highlighted recent figures from Gallup that showed a staggering 70% of US workers claimed that they’re either not engaged with their jobs, or actively disengaged.

He explained that this stems from businesses' failings to deliver what it really takes to engage employees - either because they don't train employees on how to deliver a specific type of experience or don't reinforce customer-centric behaviour. 

But, aware of the link between engaged workers and customer satisfaction, figures from the report showed that two thirds of customer experience professionals are set to invest in employee engagement this year. 

In a recent blog post, the analyst outlined best practices for delivering better customer experiences through improving employee engagement:

Create employee engagement roadmaps: Customer experience leaders should start by assessing the level of employee engagement at their firms today. With this data in hand, CX pros can perform gap analyses to identify areas for improvement. For example, employees who don’t feel empowered to solve problems are unlikely to proactively fix customer experience failures.

Inspire employees by socializing customer centricity: Creating and maintaining employee engagement requires ongoing effort. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s customer experience team employs a variety of formats for ongoing training, including an initiative called Movie Moments, which reminds employees to use simple language by riffing off famous movie quotes. One example paraphrases a famous line from Jerry Maguire: “You had me at hello…you lost me at Adjudicate.”

Build customer centricity into employee tools and ongoing practices: Operational changes, such as giving employees a customer-focused metric, help sustain improvements. Last year, Pitney Bowes found that instituting a new metric for all employees changed employee behaviour and improved satisfaction scores.

Simon Kenwright recently wrote of the disconnect between employee engagement and customer satisfaction, with many management teams viewing the two as separate. 

"An engaged employee is a company’s biggest brand advocate," he said. "Engaged employees have a clear understanding of the brand’s benefits, and speak about them enthusiastically, to customers, family and friends. A customer’s first point of interaction with a brand is often through employees; indeed the employee can ‘become’ the brand in a customer’s eyes, so this encounter is often a make-or-break moment for developing positive relationships."

The NHS recently turned to super customer service retailer John Lewis to learn how engaging employees can better satisfy customers - or patients. Retail staff at the Exeter John Lewis brand are re-educating NHS doctors in Devon to better focus on the needs of the patients.

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