I like to spout to my team that customer trust is earned in drops, but lost in buckets. In all honesty, however, it’s less of a reminder for my team than a reminder to myself to relentlessly focus on the employee experience as a metaphoric pipeline to keep that customer experience bucket overflowing.
Hopefully, I don’t have to spend time explaining why a positive employee experience leads to improved customer experience outcomes? That race is over, with the proponents of customer first still running...
Employees as liabilities
Traditionally, businesses treat the HR function as a necessary cost and the case in point is the treatment of employee entitlements as a liability in accounting. It would be hilarious if the irony wasn’t so impactful.
Plenty of companies mouth employee first policies, but come restructure time, eliminating those pesky HR liabilities is preferred to harming external brand sentiment. Again, however, hacking and slashing at people resources only leads to a single destination at the bottom-end of brand town.
Treat your employees as customers
Seriously. When people come in (or log in) to work, they don’t become robots all-of-a-sudden. They are still customers. Customers who have a bigger impact on the bottom line and brand image than any marketing campaign ever can.
It’s a concept most people I talk to have difficulty with initially, until I explain that a company’s people are customers of the employee experience. And now would be a good time to re-read the second paragraph of this post…
Back? Excellent. Similarly, the notion that a dissatisfied customer is going to tell umpteen others about their poor experience dates back further than the Old Testament.
Sorry, not sorry, if this feels a bit like an introductory leadership theory course, but executives often forget…, actually I’m being too kind…, executives often fail to realise that
Employee first IS a customer first strategy!
When your people leave work with positive feelings about what they do and how they are treated, that friendly greeting, “How was your day?” is going to get the response, “I love my job” or something similarly unbridled and unusual. Unusual to the person hearing it, at least.
But the impact of that response resonates long after it is heard. The employee saying it is self-affirming they feel valued by their employer, while the listener ratchets up the brand image of that company, both from a product-service perspective and from a workplace perspective.
So for those marketing boffins who associate brand image solely with the people who pay for their products and services, they are carrying their customer experience in one hell of a leaky bucket. Employees are the first customers to care about. Make them feel valued and they will subsequently ensure the paying customers feel valued too.
I’ll expand on this with some examples in my next article. In the meantime, I’ve got that hole in the bucket song in my head... What a fantastic reminder!