In my last blog, I talked about the impact of employee engagement on team performance. So, it is quite natural for us to move on from that to considering the role of employee engagement in customer retention.
Customer is King…..Or, Are They?
We often hear these types of statements from organizations when vividly painting a picture of their organization and how they treat customers. However, they may be missing the point.
It is all good and well to have excellent customer service objectives and strategies. I can’t imagine many organizations doing too well if they didn’t look after the welfare and interests of their customers. It is just plain good business sense to look after our customers and, therefore, customer retention.
However, there is much more to it than that. There is a danger in placing too much emphasis on your customers and not enough on your employees. Your employees won’t react very well to statements such as ‘our customer is king’ or ‘the customer is always right’, particularly when it means your employee is ‘wrong’ or has to have his/her decision overturned.
A balance can be struck between customer care and employee care.
So, Should You Put Employees First and Customers Second?
Put simply, yes, you should. But only because you value your customers. Your customers want to be dealt with and treated well by employees who are highly engaged.
Think of it this way. When have you enjoyed your best interactions with restaurants, hotels, airlines, retailers or any organisation when you have been the customer? I have had my best customer experiences when the employees are engaged. They were interested in making my customer experience as enjoyable as possible. On the other hand, my worst customer experiences have always been when I have been frustrated by poor customer service and a lack of care by disengaged employees who didn’t care whether I enjoyed the experience or not.
I can easily recall many experiences. One that stands out was a last weekend away with my wife shortly before the birth of our first daughter. I booked a hotel in scenic countryside (best not to mention that I didn’t notice that it had a full blown kids club!) and made a specific request that my wife would like a room with a bath. We got a room with a particularly deep shower tray – but no larger than that. I was told that this was a normal sized bath. It was eventually agreed that this wasn’t a normal sized bath and we were moved to a different room. I spent some hours that weekend hovering around reception listening to the customer complaints being met with a complete lack of care. The staff didn’t feel obliged to enhance the customer experience because they appeared highly disengaged. In fact, when making any requests, I felt uneasy and guilty for putting the staff to so much trouble. I have never returned to that hotel.
Compare that to my first business trip to Stockholm, Sweden. I had forgotten to inform my credit card provider that I was travelling to Sweden. My card was declined at the hotel check-in. I had just experienced a long and tough trip with delays due to bad weather. I was late to the hotel and due to deliver a leadership session at 8am the next morning. The receptionist smiled and enquired as to my tough day. He was interested and upgraded my room and arranged for room service. He suggested that I probably forgot to tell my bank and that I could phone them in the morning. I have stayed in this hotel several times since – customer retention via engaged employees in action!