Would you put your employees before your customers?

Audi_InstagramNo matter the industry you are in, the engagement levels of your employees will directly impact the experience and loyalty of your customers, whether positively or negatively.

And it certainly does swing both ways; disengaged workers can lead to lost business and cause irreparable damage to a brand.  That’s a fairly confronting thought when you consider 70% of Australians are either in two minds about their job or have completely checked out. This disconnection is costing the national economy nearly $55 billion a year.

According to a report, organisations with higher-than-average levels of engagement find success in four distinct areas; two of which are customer satisfaction and revenue. So investing in the engagement of your people first is like killing two birds with one stone, when you recognise the direct relationship between their outlook and your business’ productivity.

They’ll get on their soap box for you

One of the most powerful resources a company has to promote its brand are the opinions and actions of its workforce. Remarkably, 81% of employees say they are willing to provide positive recommendations of their employer’s products and services when they feel engaged at work.

Audi of America realised this as an avenue to improve their customer’s brand perception and promptly shaped the ‘Creating Audi Fans’ initiative.  It was established as a vehicle to change the internal view of Audi by ‘winning over the hearts and minds’ of their employees.  They recognised that if their employees felt engaged via a common purpose, then their customers would feel more connected to the brand. As a result, they saw an initial increase in customer loyalty of 7.5%. As it evolved, Audi benefited from a 26% increase in brand awareness and 47.5% increase in customer loyalty in the first quarter of 2013. They also achieved 29 consecutive months of record sales. 

They provide better customer service

Before boarding a plane, Peter flippantly tweeted this to his favourite steakhouse; ‘Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks’.  No reply from Morton’s.  But what happened next is an example of an above and beyond experience every business wants their employees to deliver for their customers.  When he landed, a tuxedo-clad Morton’s employee met him at arrivals with a full steak dinner served up on silverware. PR stunt or not, it’s fair to say that this Morton’s employee was living by their mission of ‘exceeding the expectations of our patrons.’

So how do you succeed in creating a workforce that wants to behave in the same way (albeit not necessarily as extreme) for your business?  Engage them by ensuring they feel valued and recognise their achievements. Provide meaning to their role by connecting them to your organisation’s values and allow them to have an impact. Research suggests an engaged workforce that believes in the mission of an organisation is 72% more likely to positively affect levels of customer service.

It is possible that your employees can fulfil more than one role within your business. With the right mindset they can also be your biggest brand ambassadors and experts in providing the kind of customer service that gets people talking.

Perhaps the ‘put the customer first’ mantra isn’t as clear cut as it once was.



Sources:  A Towers Perrin study covered 85,000 large and midsize companies, Incentive Research Foundation, Human Capital Institute ‘Value and ROI in employee engagement’ report, Gallup Business Journal, Employee Disengagement, Rodd Wagner and James Harter, ’12: The Elements of Great Managing’, Audi boosted brand loyalty 7.5pc by redefining employee experience, Luxury Daily Online, Australians disengaged at work: Gallup report, The Australian

Image credit: Darren Brode / Shutterstock