Treating employees like your best customers might be just what your marketing plan needs. It’s time to stop paying lip service and look at what might happen if you actually put this theory into practice.
Our Employees Set Us Apart (Said Every Business Owner, Ever)
“Success in business is all about people, people, people. Whatever industry a company is in, its employees are its biggest competitive advantage.” – Sir Richard Branson
Your employees set your business apart – so what?
Every business can be distinguished in some way by the resulting unique mix of people, personalities, talent, experience and knowledge who work there. It’s a difference without a distinction; meaning, that if it’s true for every business, you can’t consider it a competitive advantage.
“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.” – Jim Goodnight
Your employees set your business apart – so what?
You could have amazing employees; however, if you treat them like so many cogs in the wheel, take them for granted, fail to deliver on promises, ignore their concerns and expect them to work in often-neglected environments with mediocre prospects at so-so rates of pay, you’re going to lose the best employees every time. These are the same reasons that companies often lose customers – why should employers believe that great employees would be any different?
Like customers, good employees have choices. There are other companies that can better-deliver on one or more aspects of the employee experience. If your efforts to continually improve the customer experience don’t include a review of the employee experience, you’re missing one of the key factors that produces exceptional customer care.
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek
We recently published an article on one of our client’s blogs asking the question: Do you really treat employees like you treat your best customers? and went on to define what that would look like if it really happened and offered four keys (courtesy of advice from J.W. Marriott) for making the goal a reality:
- Motivate them
- Train them
- Care about them
- Make winners out of them
In addition, we listed 11 things that would be true in the employee experience if a business was really treating employees like their best customers. In addition to the dozen or so listed there, here are some more characteristics of the type of employee experience that can have far-reaching organizational benefits, including its impact on the customer experience.
10 Things True in Companies Treating Employees Like Their Best Customers
1. They Drop Everything
When a customer walks in, phones, or emails with a request or question, you expect employees to drop what they’re doing and prioritize the customer’s need. If your business is treating employees like their best customers, its leaders are doing the same for staff. Furthermore, you wouldn’t leave your customers to their own devices visit after visit. You would check in from time to time to see whether assistance is needed and you’d be readily-available when the customer came to you for help, with questions, or when they were ready to take the next step.
2. They Worry About Reviews and Ratings
Your best customers don’t have to worry about where they stand with you – it’s your job to be worried about how you rate with them. Too often once the HR paperwork is filed it’s the employee who is then on the defensive, constantly worried about where they stand with the company or their manager. Companies treating employees like they treat their best customers would be less critical; I mean, when was the last time you called a customer onto the carpet? If a customer acts inappropriately, your first instinct is probably to communicate and educate them, because you want to repair and salvage the relationship. You give them the benefit of the doubt. You err in their favor. Is this your first instinct when an employee makes a mistake?
3. They Benchmark Competitors
You gauge the customer experience, in part, based on how it rates compared to your competitors so that you can find meaningful ways to set it apart. Are you doing the same for the employee experience?
4. They Pay Attention to the Environment
The areas that are off-limits to everyone but employees should be just as clean, comfortable, well-supplied and furnished as the areas where your best customers get to hang. You probably worry about the quality of ‘presentation’ in many aspects of the customer experience – are you doing the same for employees?
5. They Add Value
Many of the marketing tactics used to acquire and retain great customers involve adding value in areas that customers actually care about. What are you doing to add value to the employee experience, and are you effectively communicating where value has been added?
6. They Worry as Much About Retention as Acquisition
Few businesses can survive – let alone thrive – without effective customer retention and loyalty tactics. If your business has a high churn rate when it comes to employees, chances are its employee retention plan needs some serious attention. By the way, high employee churn is often directly tied and devastating to customer retention as well! Treating employees like they’re more fortunate to be working for you than your company is to have them there gives them your implied permission to leave as soon as a better offer comes along.
7. They Make – and Deliver on – Promises
Imagine this: You tell customers they’ll be able to buy a product at a given price, including all of the features, benefits, warranties and guarantees it comes along with, but when they show up, you raise the price, dilute the features and benefits, void the warranty and shrug your shoulders, saying that failing to deliver on your guarantees and promises couldn’t be helped. It wouldn’t fly with customers and it doesn’t fly with employees, either. Failing to deliver on promises or continually changing the conditions, including continually rolling out new programs and rules, leads to distrust and can destroy morale and employee loyalty for good.
8. They Build Ideal Employee Profiles, Not Ideal Job Descriptions
You build ideal client types and buyer profiles in order to help you better attract, engage, motivate and retain the best customers, and you can do the same when it comes to building the best team. If you want to attract the best employees, you need to be able to recognize them when you read their resume or meet them for an interview. You can’t do this without first deciding on the characteristics you’re looking for and thinking about how they will impact the rest of the team, whether they are going to help your company grow and be able to grow along with it, and whether they’ll be an asset when it comes to attracting more high-quality team players.
9. They Ask These Questions, Every Time
Treating employees like your best customers involves research and a willingness to take action instead of avoiding hard questions and challenging problems. Think about it: What are some of the most common questions asked at the end of each and every customer experience?
- Did you find what you needed today?
- Is there anything else we can do for you?
- Is there anything we could have done better?
Companies that are truly concerned with an ever-improving customer experience not only ask these questions each and every time a customer visits, they actually listen to – and act on – the answers they receive to these questions. Many business owners seem to be afraid to ask these kinds of questions to employees, because of the very fact that they’d have to respond and take action.
10. They Consider the Journey
For many businesses, a one-and-done customer journey is a failure. They look at the customer journey not just for the first visit but for the lifetime value of newly-acquired customer represents. They strategize ways to move the prospect to customer, to move the customer to repeat buyer, to move the repeat buyer to loyal client, to move the loyal client to vocal brand advocate, and so on. There’s a progression and a pathway. The same should be true of the employee journey. Landing an employee to fill a hole in your team isn’t the end-game, it’s the beginning. Employees want to know there’s a path to progression for them and they want to know what the next step is. Just as it’s your job to help the customer move to the next step, it’s your job to make sure the employee know what their next play is in your organization, how to get there, and even to provide the tools and motivation needed for them to make the jump.
“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself.” – J.W. Marriott
If you’ve never made the connection between the success of your business and the success-potential of your employees, now is the time to start. Treating employees like you treat your best customers can be the path to making the claim that “our employees set us apart” a difference that actually distinguishes your company from all the rest.
We would love to be part of your story.
We may be a marketing agency, but our team has over a decade of formal human resources as well as real-world employee management experience to draw on. We can help you identify ways to improve the employee as well as the customer experience so that you can leverage it as a marketing advantage. Reach out to us for more information: