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Once again, a big “Thank You” for being part of our OD Community at our Employee Happiness and Customer Experience as Business Differentiators Café on the 18th of May 2016.  The Café marked the first session of our 2nd Quarter Café Series and we look forward to sharing your wisdom and experience at the second and the third sessions scheduled for the 22nd of June 2016 and 20th of July 2016 respectively. We trust that the experience was as enjoyable, insightful and beneficial for you as it was for us. During the session we were able to confirm that in today’s hyper-competitive, hyper-connected global markets, employee happiness and customer experience have assumed major roles as joint key business differentiators!

We further established that our businesses invest heavily in building and delivering brand values and then go on to build impressive websites and produce professional and creative marketing collateral which position them to be customer centric. However, despite this investment in marketing, the behaviour of employees, who actually encounter the customer, is so often inconsistent with those values and messages. At the front line, employees are often taught how to respond to the customer and how to message the brand. However many organisations then spend insufficient time, money and resource on ensuring that employees have the tools, environment and customer knowledge and understanding to effectively deliver the brand promise? Fewer organisations still would consider developing a supportive “employee centric” culture that delivers an improved customer experience. Not enough businesses see measuring employee satisfaction and engagement levels as a critical financial driver and where it is done, it is only done for compliance purposes.

Our deliberations centred around three discussion points/questions:

  • What do we understand by Employee Happiness and Customer Experience?
    How do the two concepts manifest themselves in our organisations or experiences?
  • What are our organisation strategies toward achieving employee happiness and customer experience?
  • What exactly is/are the issue(s) here for us and our organisations?

It seems logical that fully satisfied and engaged employees, i.e. those that go the extra mile, take real ownership of an issue, deliver on their commitments both internally and externally, and are passionate about the customer, are those that make up a truly customer centric business.

So if it were so easy, why aren’t all businesses getting it right? Every commercial business exists to achieve their numbers, to generate sales, minimize costs and increase profitability. Most accept the criticality of the customer in this value equation but fewer place their employees at equal value or indeed at a higher importance level than the customer. Companies that are passionate about delivering consistent service excellence take for granted the importance of putting in place the basics for effective people management and have gone a step further in developing the added values of an employee centric culture.

The key to employee happiness is seen by many as your ability to listen, act, and then reinforce your actions. The key is to find out what employees value by listening to what they communicate as important to them. In many organisations one way they do this is to regularly conduct employee engagement surveys. After you receive employee feedback, address what you heard with concrete actions and then continue to reinforce and support the changes you’ve put in place.

One mistake people make is thinking that addressing employee happiness is a one-time thing, and that if you boost morale in the short-term that’s enough, you can move on. That’s wrong. Employee happiness is something you have to continuously work on. After you’ve put processes or programmes in place that have proven to be effective in terms of improving employee happiness, you still need to reinforce their importance over time and make sure they’re adopted and become part of the company’s culture. This is key to ensuring employee happiness long-term.

Employee engagement is about the emotional attachment an employee has to their role and their company. Engaged employees will be committed to working hard, stepping outside of the box and going the extra mile for their customer. It is recognised that companies with higher employee engagement levels are associated with greater productivity and improved customer experiences. So why are employee and customer strategies not more aligned? The benefits of doing so would improve their customer experience and ultimately their bottom line.

Employee happiness and customer experience leaders who drive these kinds of cultural and systemic change will radically affect their competitive position and business performance through the creation of authentic employee and customer loyalty. We look forward in exploring these issues with you on our journey towards making our organisation effective in a healthy way. Join us again on the 22nd of June 2016, from 07:00 for 07:30 to 10:00 as we explore these issues further by sharing real case studies through a panel presentation and discussion.

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