Engaged employees + happy customers = increased business

Some weeks ago, a friend of mine got a haircut. It was a disaster. Granted, curly hair comes with a particular challenge, but this was beyond “the challenge”. What happened? I gasped when I saw him. Didn’t you explain what you needed? He assured me that he had given proper instructions. He assured me the hairdresser was experienced. She simply hadn’t focussed on what she was doing, he answered sheepishly. She had chatted about shoes with her colleagues while cutting hair and had barely looked at the task at hand.

Don’t we all have at least 10 similar experiences? In a store, in a restaurant , buying insurance… you name it. While really, it’s not rocket science: customers are the reason we even have a job. No matter how far removed we might be from the actual person who is buying our product or service.

These are the three key questions you should ask yourself if you want to increase customer satisfaction :

1: Who ARE your customers?
Try to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What do they expect? Imagine a face behind the concept. Now, for the hairdresser, that is an easy task. But what if your customers are internal? An internal customer is, in essence, anyone you work with. It can be a sales rep, HR, the receptionist, the financial director, … How about treating these people as if they are your customers?
It is natural to pay more attention to the external customer and no doubt, they are your number one priority! But there is a domino effect between internal customer satisfaction and external customer satisfaction. In order to produce happy external customers (those who buy your products and services) it is important to build good customer satisfaction with internal customers. We can compare this to a chain. Each link contributes to the overall strength of the chain and, when there is a broken link, the whole organisation is weakened.

2 : Are you listening to your customers?
Who hasn’t heard of ‘active listening’? And yet, how often do we fail to actually listen actively ourselves? In reality, it takes a lot of concentration and awareness to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break and if your listening skills are as bad as many people’s are, then there’s a lot of habit-breaking to do! Remind yourself that your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying. That includes hearing the non-verbal cues - such as your customer’s grumpy face in the mirror. Concentrate on the message. Ask open questions, reflect and paraphrase to ensure you understand what’s being said.
The power of this technique is that it allows you to become a leader to your customers. You’ll be surprised what you find out and how much more added value you are able to bring to the table. Start by being an active listener in your day-to-day life. It will actually improve relationships all around.

3: Are you able to link your company’s mission to your customer’s expectations?
It is astonishing how often people are clueless about the actual goal of their company. Do you know what your company stands for? Do you respect its mission and are you proud of being part of it? If your answer is yes, it will contribute to your engagement level and naturally, your customers (both internal as external) will feel it. Engaged employees are ready to embrace customers’ expectations, find creative solutions and will go the extra mile.
Clearly, my friend wasn’t lucky enough get serviced by an engaged employee… and he won’t be returning either.

Here’s what the Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report says : if you are able to engage your employees so that the effect can be felt by your customers, your company will experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes. Which is one of the reasons why it pays to invest in your workforce.

Simply put, if you’d like to be a cut above your competition : understand your customers, listen and engage your employees.


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