Keeping your customers happy so that they don’t leave for a competitor can be more easily said than done in some instances, but the key to prioritising customer experience may actually be through a less direct channel - prioritising your employees first.
In most industries, there are ample options available to customers to leave one business for another. Brand loyalty plays little part in customer decision making once employees show poor customer service. This blog post will give you some strategies to engage your employees so that they can better serve your customers.
Customer experience should be at the forefront of business plans to reduce churn and keep customers happy. 32% of customers globally would leave a brand they love after a single bad experience.
To understand how to tackle the issue of customer churn, the first step is to look at the key reasons they leave in the first place.
PWC reported that the five most significant reasons people would stop doing business with a company:
- Bad employee attitudes
- Unfriendly service
- Untrusted company
- Unknowledgeable employees
Employees are largely the motivating factor for customer departures. Customers are unlikely to chalk a bad experience up to an employee having an “off day” and aren’t willing to excuse rude service. Customer expectations are continuously on the rise and their tolerance for insufficient service is nearly nonexistent. If an employee is particularly frosty or unhelpful it can easily deter any customer from returning to a business as they won’t see the experience as worth risking again. We can easily conclude that employee training and engagement is paramount to reducing customer churn.
Happy employees yield happy customers. And happy customers are loyal customers. Research has shown that companies with highly engaged employees perform better than their competitors who don’t prioritise employee engagement and experience. So how can we tackle this issue head on?
Strategies to improve employee engagement:
- Give kudos
When an employee goes above and beyond in an interaction with a customer, give them a public pat on the back! Having some sort of board in your staff room with a visual representation of who is going above and beyond can motivate your employees to be their best because it is rewarded with praise.
- Listen to them
Just as you survey your customers to learn about their experiences, you should intermittently survey your employees to get feedback on how they think their work experiences could improve. Managers don’t always see the breadth of what their employees go through and employees don’t always feel comfortable or empowered to share how operations could improve.
Companies with first-rate employee engagement like Apple, Zappos and JetBlue all prioritise listening to their employees and taking action from their feedback. If you periodically survey your employees and prove to them that they are being heard by management with various initiatives and improvements based on the survey results, you will certainly have happier, more engaged employees.
- Encourage independence
Give your employees creative control of their interactions with your customers. Acting under strict conditions may lead them to feel confined and limit their ability to effectively serve your customers. Take for example this case from American Express. They got rid of call centre scripts, enabling employees to be involved in the problem-solving process pertaining to customer requests. Giving your employees a sense of freedom shows that you trust them to understand your business and your customers. At American Express, they’ve seen increased retention rates and spending amongst promoters.
Figure out what motivates your employees and encourages their productivity in your business so that you can create an environment through which they can have more successful interactions with your customers. If customers are being put off by poor employee interactions, fix it by making those interactions more enjoyable for the employees first to encourage happier customers. Employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are inextricably linked, so you should consider tackling them together for the best results.