Blog: How employee freedom leads to a better customer experience

Through empowerment, businesses can make their employees happier, which in turn makes customers happier, writes Bill McMurray.

Most organisations are built around the traditional top-down, command-and-control structure. However, giving employees the ability to be involved in decisions regarding customer support can lead to greater levels of customer satisfaction. One way to do this effectively is to implement both customer and employee feedback channels with clear visibility of the results/feedback.

Enabling employees to create great customer experiences is a key tool in building and sustaining a customer-focused business. Such an approach can lead to greater brand loyalty and customer retention.

There are four key steps businesses can take to help build a great customer experience through engaged employees:

1. Empower employees
Organisations can empower employees by removing unnecessary barriers that may prevent them from putting the customer first. Organisations can immediately improve the customer experience by implementing systems and processes that let employees see highly relevant customer feedback in real time, and use the information at their discretion to improve customer interactions without having to consult managers further up the chain.

2. Secure leadership buy-in
Offering employees a certain level of autonomy is important, but it is also crucial to make sure they have the confidence to make decisions, knowing they will be backed up by managers and company leaders. To do this, companies need leadership buy-in. This can be achieved by designating an executive to advocate for customer initiatives, delivering leadership training and linking executive bonuses to customer satisfaction metrics.

3. Provide incentives
Incentivising employees to care for customers involves far more than simply providing them with a weekly pay packet. Incentivising employees is all about offering special rewards for those who go out of their way to deliver great customer experiences. This could be as simple as offering an ‘employee of the week’ award, or as elaborate as providing a sizeable yearly bonus. Either way, incentivising employees will lead to better customer care.

4. Listen to employees
Disengaged employees are less likely to provide a great customer experience, making it harder to win over unhappy customers. Organisations should establish employee listening channels to make sure that dissatisfied employees can voice their concerns or problems easily and without fear of negative repercussions. An employee engagement program is a good way to make sure employees’ voices are heard. The employee engagement program must consist of real-time employee feedback and provide highly relevant information for managers, so they are able to take action on employee feedback when it is needed.

It is crucial for companies to integrate their customer experience and employee engagement programs to ensure they deliver an exceptional customer experience. If you don’t have happy employees, then you are unlikely to have happy customers.

Bill McMurray is the managing director, Asia Pacific and Japan, of Qualtrics, a software-as-a-service company that provides survey platforms for businesses.

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