How to Increase Employee Engagement
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Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well that they want to see it again and bring their friends.” With this insight in mind, many businesses today are beginning to value the connection between customer experience and employee engagement.
Employee engagement has become a top business priority for retailers. They recognize that a highly engaged workforce can increase innovation, productivity, and a customer’s overall experience. However, a growing group of best-in-class retailers say they are gaining competitive advantage and driving business results through establishing in-store principal practices and metrics.
71% of retailers rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success, according to a report by Harvard Business Review. However, according to Forrester analyst Sam Stern, 70% of employees claimed that they’re either not engaged with their jobs, or are actively disengaged.
Stern outlines in his blog post some best practices that retailers could build on to deliver better customer experiences through improving employee engagement:
Develop Employee Engagement Roadmaps: Customer experience leaders should work towards implementing assessments of employee engagement. With this kind of data, CX analysts can find where the gaps are and work on the areas of improvement.
Energize Employees by Socializing Customer Centricity: Building and maintaining employee engagement is an ongoing work in progress. This can be done by training employees to deliver the intended experience. For example, a clinic set out to transform its culture to deliver patient experiences -- so, it trained all 42,000 employees in its patient experience principles.
Reward Customer-Centric Behaviour: “Retailers must reinforce customer centricity by linking compensation and recognition to employee performance on customer-centric behaviours”, says Stern. This can be done through an informal rewards program, or from peers reinforcement.
An engaged employee is a company’s biggest advocate. Engaged employees speak enthusiastically to customers in the store and online. A customer’s first point of interaction with a retailer is often through their employees, or a social networking platform; indeed the employee can become the face of the retailer, so this encounter is often a make-or-break moment for developing positive relationships.
Overcoming the “September Slump”
One US retailer in particular puts together an annual engagement survey, which is then tailored to their needs. For example, they recently instituted a wraparound recognition program to overcome the “September slump,” the typical drop-off in sales that plagues their industry every fall. '
The program encouraged sales staff to step up their service, greeting customers at the door, helping them locate items, and alerting them to money-saving opportunities at the in-store kiosks. Using this program, the company was able to dramatically exceed customer satisfaction levels and reverse the negative Q4 trend. Then it built a special recognition program to honour stores that hit specific goals, such as maintaining customer satisfaction levels.*
Highly involved retailers are recognizing the benefits of employee engagement -- they can identify that an exceptionally captured workforce will increase innovation, but more importantly the customer’s overall experience. This growing group of retailers are gaining this competitive advantage -- are you?
*“The Impact of Employment Engagement on Performance” Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. accessed 21 November 2014.
*Photo credits: Dance With Heidi, Shutterstock