A friend of mine shared a story with me about a business owner for whom he once worked. During weekly staff meetings, department heads would give their updates, and as the information was given, the owner would mark his notes with either a smiley face or a frowning face. While some may leave a smirking face at this process, it underlies a human instinct that people typically just want to be happy. After 25 years in business, he had deduced feedback and what he wanted to do going forward based on whether it made him happy or not. At the core of his drive was making his customers happy, even sometimes to the detriment of better business practices.
And so it REALLY is, if you can make your customer happy with the value you provide, then you can earn a lifetime customer or client. I’m not proposing that you pull off gimmicks to try and make them happy in the sense of emotions. I’m talking about providing a service or adding value to your client and consumer base that meets them in their need, and makes them happy with what you have added to their business or life.
Let’s face it, from a client or customer standpoint, our most powerful perceptions of a business are from our interaction with…people. The employees of a company, with whom we interact, typically give us either a “smiley face” or a “frowning face.” Even when we interact with AI and automated systems, we still derive our experience on whether it treated us like, and made us feel like a respected human and customer. Haven’t you experienced the employee who is grumpy, doesn’t want to really help you, and is not willing to go check the back just to make sure they don’t have what you’re looking for? We all have. The noticeable difference of the employee who goes out of their way to help you is a breath of fresh air no doubt, and this radically changes our experience with that business.
So it would stand to reason that one of the most effective ways to make happy customers is have engaged employees who represent and stand for the values of the company, and are able to provide their customers an opportunity to smile through excellent customer service and care.
Why Engagement Works
Engaged employees bring energy and innovation to the office. Because they are invested in their job, they are more likely to do the work that provides creative solutions to complex problems and company wide initiatives when given the chance. In essence, when they engage the challenges in such a way, they “own” their work, and when they own it, they can extend that knowledge and understanding to the business’ clients and customers. As a result, they drive up profitability by helping bolster strong processes, as well as bringing in new customers, while retaining others.
On the company side, an engaged employee improves productivity and retention. So while the company builds a strong and consistent workforce, it also builds a strong and faithful client and customer base. Quite simply, an engaged workforce renders a more successful company, as there’s a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and client satisfaction.
Ways to Drive Employee Engagement
- Treat employees (old and new employees) as individuals, and not just another component of the “machine”.
- Be proactive and schedule the time to consistently get feedback from employees from the start of the onboarding process, throughout their entire tenure, and even take advantage of exit interview processes. Listen carefully to their feedback, and work to develop better processes, systems, and communication from their input.
- Make sure to notify employees of changes or new company initiatives, especially ones that affect their job. 70 percent of employees become more engaged when their leaders regularly update them on changes in company strategy or goals.
- Give your employees the tools and structures they need to flourish.
- Acknowledge personal development goals and provide educational opportunities to help employees grow. This is essential to engagement and retention.
Engaged employees are part of the team, the process, and the overall outlook of the company. Don’t just work to engage the employees who are front-facing to your clients, but build the full support team, so that engagement drives the action from top to bottom. When employees are engaged and part of the process, they can have a tremendously positive impact on making your clients and customers…happy (smiley face).