By Colleen Lindberg
June 4th, 2014 Edition
Employees are the front line to our business. They are usually the first person our clients and customers meet when they walk into our office and stores or are the first one they speak with when they call into our offices. If our employees are not engaged in our vision or the bottom line of our company, this can be a real hindrance factor on the experience of the customer.
Let me give you an example
“I heard about your product through a friend of mine, who passed along your company contact information, including your website. I took the time to go onto your website, search around, dabble a bit and then decided that I wanted to speak to someone to get my questions answered. I called the phone number that was provided on your website. Sally answers the phone in a monotone voice, a little mumbled and says “Thank you for calling xxx consulting services, how may I direct your call?” I let her know that I was on your website and wanted to speak to someone about my questions. Sally asks me, “What department would you like to speak to?” I tell her I am not sure, one that will answer my questions. She sighs and gets a bit frustrated on the phone, seeing that I am annoying her, I just tell her to transfer me to the customer service department, she says you are speaking to customer service department, how can I help you?” Now, I am frustrated at this point, as my time is being wasted and after I ask my questions to Sally she says to me “Oh I am not the person you need to speak to, you need to speak to sales”. So after all this experience, I am a frustrated customer, feeling underappreciated. I feel like I just wasted my time and my sense of things is “What is this company doing?“
Now this whole scenario could have changed if the conversation with Sally had been different. A few key things to note about Sally. She wasn’t happy from the first minute she answered the phone. Sally hasn’t been feeling appreciated in her role, she feels like all she does is answer the phones and her job is meaningless. She doesn’t align with the vision of the company, nor has anyone asked her about her opinion. You might be thinking, well Sally is only the Receptionist/Customer Service rep and she doesn’t make those kind of decisions. You are right, however you just read about a scenario where Sally is the first point of contact for the customers, she is the one that will dictate the customer’s first experience. If she was cheerful, helpful and motivated to do her job, the customer that called in would have felt appreciated and valued, instead of frustrated and confused now not wanting to engage in the services of the company because of the experience with Sally.
As business owners and leaders of organizations, we need to recognize that every person in our organization and every seat on the bus plays a pivotal role in the function of the company. All of the pieces are necessary to make it turn. So the real question is how do we include all of employees on a more consistent basis so that they feel valued and in turn your customers and clients are also feeling valued.
Here are three tips:
1) Ask your employees for their opinions when the company is making decisions and emphasize that every role and every person brings a voice that contributes to the company. When you are holding meetings to discuss changes and or new avenues of the business, consider having a meeting with all the team and brainstorming with them about these new thoughts or ideas for change. This will allow your team to feel a part of something bigger than just their role.
2) Host more consistent team building events. Whether it be a movie night, bowling, a spa day or game night, or a specialized workshop/training session, group workshops, or family barbeques where everyone can bring their kids and spouses. This will allow relationships to be solidified at different levels and the feeling of being a part of something bigger will be enhanced. It will also make our employees feel more valued as the company is going out of their way to enhance team building.
3) Lastly, consider having weekly mini meetings with departments ie: customer service, sales, manufacturing etc. to address key issues of the week, thoughts people have about changing things around, addressing customer issues and all around talking about everyone’s thoughts. This will allow the manager to engage his team on a more consistent level. It will also allow the team to discuss customer (department issues) issues as a whole and be able to address them on a more consistent basis. It will continue to solidify the team’s relationships for a more effective team synergy and understanding.
You may already have a great corporation that has growth and a solid vision and who knows you may have been around in the industry for 20 years already, I still ask you the question “Are your employees feeling valued and engaged?” “Do they know what the vision of the company is and do they feel like they are a part of it?” If you don’t know the answer to these questions or your answer is no, you might want to consider making some changes. As I said in the beginning, our employees affect our customers, the more appreciated our employees feel the more our customers will feel appreciated.