Why you should treat your employees like your most loyal customers
Many companies invest heavily to improve the customer experience but sideline employees who are responsible for delivering that experience. What some organizations forget is that their employees are their first and most important customers (internal). They use your tools and systems and they know firsthand about your culture. If your employees don’t believe in your business, the quality of their work will be poor. Business success starts with the employee experience. When employees are happy (feel valued, welcome, respected, heard), they will create remarkable experiences for your external customers. Your employees are your greatest brand advocates. You can’t expect stellar customer service from employees who feel distrusted and discounted. Successful businesses focus on creating memorable employee experiences to keep their staff engaged and happy.
In 2015, Airbnb announced that they were appointing a Global Head of Employee Experience. The following year, the company topped Glassdoor’s list of the 50 Best Places to Work. Instead of following the traditional business model, Airbnb creates change and empowers employees at all levels, which has a huge effect on the success of the company, both monetarily and culturally.
Always be quick to recognize and reward the efforts and contributions of employees. Nothing says we value you like showing how much you appreciate them.
” Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” -Simon Sinek
Employees spend half of their lives at work. It should at least be a pleasant experience. When employees are treated unfairly and as “second class citizens”, it results in decreased employee morale. Low morale results in decreased employee productivity. Moreover, dissatisfied employees will share their negative work experiences with family and friends thus turning away potential customers and employees.
The employee experience is influenced by three factors:
- The physical environment in which an employee works.
- The support and tools an employer provides.
- How an employer takes an interest in the well-being and success of employees.
Here’s an example.
A retail store stated their employees were the “heart of the business.” The retail area was clean and well-stocked. Aisles were wide and well-marked with bright signage. Even the parking lot sparkled – there was rarely any litter seen in customer parking areas. Customers were impressed.
Employee space was an entirely different matter. Stock rooms were cluttered and dark. Staff locker rooms were poorly lighted and poorly maintained. The break room was bleak, with old, uncomfortable furniture, and trash bins overflowed. Even the vending machines were inadequately stocked with only junk food.
The message was clear – the company cares more about customers and less about employees.
“ I truly believe that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.” -Richard Branson
How can you ensure you’re treating employees as your most loyal customers:
- First, Engage them in this conversation. No one knows how to upgrade the employee experience better than your employees themselves. Ask them what they love about working in the company and what they would want you to do differently to reduce frustrations and improve work conditions. Listening is crucial.
- Involve Employees in decisions. Grant them autonomy and flexibility. Show you trust them to do the job you hired them for. Employees want to know their voices are being heard and their opinions matter. Consistent communication and a culture that welcomes feedback, keeps employees from feeling that they’re kept in the dark. Employees who are involved in any aspect of the company feel ownership.
- Be Authentic. The driving force behind everything you do should be to create an atmosphere where everyone feels like they belong. With a strong purpose, employees can easily see why leaders are doing what they are doing. Take action. Observe closely. Refine systems, policies, and practices to honor employees. When people see you are sincere, you will get employee buy-in and win their trust.
“You can’t be the best place to buy, if you’re not the best place to work” -Fred Reichheld
Furthermore, show employees that you sincerely care about their well-being. Employees want to be treated as human beings. They have feelings, emotions and personal lives. When employees are facing personal issues (illness, family crisis, bereavement) – be empathetic. Inflexibility and insensitivity will cause employees to withdraw and become disengaged.
When employees are consistently treated with trust, dignity, and respect, they respond by giving their best. They care about the business, their colleagues and their customers. Employees demonstrate that care by serving customers wholeheartedly, solving problems quickly, and working cooperatively. If you want to get the best from your employees – Treat them like your most loyal customers!
Ms Brigette Hyacinth is the author of The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence