Which came first: the chicken or the egg? This question has vexed philosophers for centuries. The connection between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and profitability is easier to uncover. Studies have shown that loyal customers and employee engagement are critical to success, whatever the economic climate.
In common with most of its channel partners, we recognise that our intellectual property is our people. So we must understand what motivates our staff to do what they do better every day. Employees influence the behaviour and attitudes of customers and it is customers who drive an organisation’s profitability through the purchase of it products and services.
Measurement as the missing link
The link is there, but how do you harness and enhance it for maximum benefit? The old adage that what can be measured can also be managed remains true in terms of customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
We works with global consultancy Walker to create value through customer loyalty. An annual survey of Business Partners aims to establish whether customers are high risk, accessible, trapped or truly loyal. Customers who are truly loyal are likely to buy more solutions, are less expensive to serve, and therefore are the most profitable. It is win-win for all concerned, and the goal is to have most Business Partners firmly in the ‘truly loyal’ quadrant.
Likewise, our employees are surveyed each year by Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Last year over 80 per cent of the staff completed the survey, which is aimed to help management gauge the level of understanding of corporate strategy and how people are feeling in terms of trust, being heard and knowing their role in the bigger picture.
In previous employee surveys, the areas that scored well in good communication and where managers kept their people informed got good results. People perform best if they are allowed to do the job they were hired to do and feel their colleagues are equally committed to providing quality support and service.
However, it is important to delve deeper. Business Partners and employees are all individuals and should be treated accordingly. Sales people may review the detail of the customer surveys and to speak to Business Partners about any issues or requirements. Similarly, managers get feedback on employee comments.
Happy partners and staff beyond profits
We want happy partners and employees beyond the profit consideration. Staff need to feel they are valued, challenged and respected while partnership and service is all important to customers. Effective internal communication creates an informed, motivated and engaged workforce that leads to happy customers and increased profits.
Employees need to know their opinion counts. We use internal communications specialists EM (Internal Comms) to achieve this. Channel players are well known for their skill at putting across value propositions, differentiators, features and benefits externally, but how well do we communicate internally?
In economic turbulence and with new technology arriving daily, we must involve employees in the change process. We may tell them what needs to change, but we also ask them how that change can be implemented – and great ideas and solutions are likely to pop out. In addition there will be vastly improved employee engagement.
EM (Internal Comms) believes that internal communication is two-way and should be allowed to evolve -- even ramble -- to produce creative thoughts and ideas. The best way to facilitate bright ideas is to have fun. We recently ran a ‘world café’ that took people out of a formal meeting room and into a colourful and energetic environment.
Employees were able to share ideas that helped replicate successful experiences and generate pride and mutual respect. The end results were a far clearer picture of what people feel passionate about and a wealth of creative ideas. Whether your organisation is a multi-million operation or the smallest of set-ups the same principle remains: customer and employee satisfaction are intrinsically linked. But we will leave it to the philosophers to decide which came first.
Sukh Rayat is EMEA vice president of sales at Avnet Technology Solutions
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