I’ve written about this for years. The key to a great customer experience starts on the inside. Another way of saying it:
What happens on the inside of the organization is felt on the outside by the customer.
The way to ensure a positive internal culture is what I refer to as The Employee Golden Rule, which is to do unto employees as you want done unto customers. This is where the customer experience begins.
If you don’t believe me, check out a list of the best customer-focused companies. These are the organizations that are rated at the top for customer service and CX. Then go to Glassdoor.com and find a list of the best companies to work for. It’s no coincidence that many of the same companies are on both lists. These are the rockstar brands and companies that get it. You must focus as much on internal customer service as you do on outside customer service.
So, let’s talk about the internal customer experience. Why is internal service important? Let me list just a few of the reasons.
· Lower employee churn. In other words, employees stay longer and are loyal.
· Built-in brand ambassadors. If your own employees won’t evangelize your brand, don’t expect customers to do so. A sure way to tell if you’re failing your internal customers is if you notice that very few of them ever say they love the company and what they do and stand for.
· Higher engagement and productivity. Employees who love working for their organizations are more engaged and try harder. They take care of you because you take care of them.
So, with that in mind, here are six ways to create a better employee experience.
1. Vocabulary—What do you call your employees? Are they team members, staff, associates, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen (thank you, Ritz-Carlton), etc.? It’s not going to change your culture if you use a word other than employee, but it doesn’t hurt either. It helps set the tone.
2. Feedback—Employees (or whatever you call them—see No. 1 above) love to know they are doing a good job. Too many times I hear, “The boss never gives me feedback.” …. In short, give feedback on a regular basis.
3. Recognition—People love to know when they are successful. While feedback (No. 2 on this list) is typically directed toward individuals, you can extend that feedback to group recognition for a job well done.
4. Accessibility—It is important for leaders and managers to be accessible and available to employees. While an open-door policy may not work in every case, the ability for the team to meet with the appropriate leader for appropriate reasons sends a powerful message that leadership and management want to hear from the team. It’s important to emphasize “appropriate leader for appropriate reasons.” There may be some guidelines needed to ensure this level of accessibility is successful.
5. Communication—The proper communication can squelch rumors that could have a negative impact on employee morale and the overall culture. Even if the message is “tough,” it’s better to know the truth than to let speculation get out of control.
6. Empowerment—This may be one of the most important on the list. If you hire good people, be sure to train them well and then let them do their job. One of the fastest ways to destroy employee morale is to create a culture that doesn’t empower employees to do what is right.
Do you want your customers to love your company? I’m pretty sure I know that answer to that. And the key is to start from within. The good feelings begin with you and travel throughout your team and on outward to the customer.