Everywhere you turn in the business world, you hear of job titles such as Customer Service Executive, Customer Success Manager, Customer Advocacy Director, and even Customer Happiness Officer (yes, a real designation)! Read any publications offline and online (including our blog), and you will see numerous articles and blog posts about how to acquire customers, keep customers happy, retain customers, and how to make customers your advocates for your business. Popular companies such as Rackspace, Zappos, Wistia, and Southwest are relentless about their customer success efforts, and that focus has had a profound impact on brand awareness, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.
This focus on customer service and success is hugely positive – after all, we are all customers in some capacity to different businesses or brands. But here’s the caveat:most of us also work for many of these businesses or brands. Then why do we rarely see titles such as Employee Success Manager, Employee Advocacy Director, or an Employee Happiness Officer? Why are today’s businesses still only focusing on one customer segment – the external customers? What about an organization’s internal customers:its employees?
Yes, employees are Internal Customers
Most of you who have read the above two paragraphs may immediately think, “Well, there is HR, and that department focuses on employees. HR departments cover recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, and more.” True, HR departments are focused on employees, but I would argue that every manager and C-suite executive needs to be focused on his or her internal customers, too. Employees should be placed on a footing that is equal to or higher than an organization’s customers. There needs to be a strong understanding that you can only treat your customers as well as you treat your people!
Remember the first rule of lifeguarding – save yourself first. Likewise, in business, start by addressing the health and happiness of your own organization before you focus on your customers’ happiness. Here’s the proof:The ROI on employee welfare as estimated by The Rand Corp is a return of $1.50 for every dollar that the employer invested in the entire wellness program. Gallup claims that highly engaged workers can have a 22% positive impact on a company’s profitability. There is a myriad of convincing stats related to the ROI of employee training, development, and engagement. Think about the millions of dollars spent on customer happiness. If businesses really focus on keeping their internal customers happy, it can go a long way towards contributing to the happiness of their external customers, too. This may even result in lowering the spending on customer service and satisfaction.
Get the recruiting piece right
A recent article from the Harvard Business Review articulates how important it is to recruit for a cultural fit. Even the most qualified, intelligent, and skilled employee could be ineffective and unhappy if he or she is not a good cultural fit for an organization. Here’s a little more perspective on why it is important for every employee to find the “right playground to play in.” Trying to gauge whether a potential candidate would fit into an organization’s culture is something that should start even before any initial phone screening. To find out whether a candidate shares the same core beliefs as a company, the team that is recruiting could send out an online interview with targeted questions to get better insights before phone screening. By taking this simple step to assess culture fit, a company could be saving time, effort, and financial resources associated with recruiting, onboarding, training, and turnover.
Put employee success first
Once an employee is recruited, it is crucial for a company to make his or her success a priority even before day one of the employee’s tenure. It starts with making sure the employee gains a thorough understanding of the organization and then understands how she/he can impact the organization positively. Every colleague, manager, or team that the employee collaborates with during the course of his/her day should be capable of contributing to this employee’s success and happiness. This sort of supportive environment can only exist in an organization where open dialogue and transparency is encouraged. Such efforts ultimately enrich the overall organizational culture, which can in turn positively affect a business’s bottom line.