(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. To learn more about designing and managing a company culture that drives bottom line success, check out The Workforce Institute’s latest anthology, It’s All About Bob(bie): Strategies for Winning with Your Employees. Enjoy the post!)
The two top drivers of employee engagement are recognition (72 percent) and understanding how work contributes to the bottom-line (70 percent), according to a Harvard Business Review report titled “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance”. Using these two drivers, my takeaway is that engagement is the result of connection, meaning the employee feels a connection to the company and their work.
It recently occurred to me that customer service is a key factor in creating that connection (and subsequently, employee engagement). We know that businesses need customers and employees are the ones who deliver service to those customers. We also know that delivering excellent customer service improves the business and the bottom-line.
We know that, many times, the recognition employees receive is either directly from customers or because of an interaction they had with a customer. As a result, organizations have an opportunity to use customer service as a way for employees to understand and increase their connection to their work and the organization.
I came to this realization during the annual Workforce Institute board meeting where Joyce Maroney, senior director of customer marketing at Kronos, was sharing some information about the rollout of Kronos’ new customer community. “Kronos launched a new customer community on the Salesforce.com platform as part of our overall transformation as a SaaS provider. The community connects customers, partners, and Kronos employees with each other, and with the content they need to derive the maximum value from their investment in Kronos technology.”
During the conversation I had last month with Dave Almeda, chief people officer at Kronos, we talked about how they create an engaging candidate and employee experience. What really connected the dots for me was, after being a part of both conversations, I could see how customer service is an engagement driver. The principles of the customer community applied to both external as well as internal customers (i.e. employees).
4 Key Principles to Creating a Customer Community
Whether you’re focused on internal or external customers, there are core principles that apply in creating a successful community. Here are the four key principles to focus on:
1. Knowing the business. For employees to feel engaged with the company, they need to understand how the organization operates. In addition, employees need to understand the company’s customers: what are they looking for in a product or service, how do they use the product or service, and what do they like/dislike about the product or service the company offers.
2. Making connections. Employees need to work with others to get things done. That applies even to individual contributors. Joyce shared with us how members in the customer community are working together to help each other. “Members can pose and answer each other’s questions in the community. The member doing the asking can identify an answer as a ‘best answer’, making it that much easier for a future query to be resolved quickly.”
3. Leading the way. Employees want to control their work. That being said, they’re also open to hearing about proven best practices they can use or adapt to make their jobs easier. Joyce explained in the new Kronos customer community, members can do the same thing. “They can enter ideas for new functionality they’d like Kronos to develop and vote on these ideas. Members are providing Kronos product managers with insight about how popular a particular enhancement might be with the broader community.”
4. Empowering people. Employees do not necessarily need every question answered by a manager. They just want answers. Organizations can facilitate this by giving employees the tools and systems to solve their own problems. Examples includes collaborative technology and employee self-service. The same applies to customers. Many are very willing to search for their own answers provided the organization creates a system that will facilitate this level of service.
This video from Kronos is a great example of the connection between employee engagement and customer connection. Check out the quote from Todd in Indianapolis around the 1:00 minute mark:
In each of these principles, the employee and customer views are similar. To become engaged, you need to know the product, listen to how others successfully use the product, find proven strategies that work for you, and take advantage of the technology solutions available to you.
Customer Service Drives Engagement
Businesses know that customer service drives customer engagement. That philosophy applies both inside and outside the organization. The reverse is also true. According to an article in Harvard Business Review, companies with high levels of engagement realize higher levels of customer service.
Stepping up the company’s customer service game isn’t only a win for external customers. It can engage internal customers as well.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at KronosWorks 2016 in Orlando, FL