engage service workers makes for a happier workplace

Engaged Customer Service Employees Provide Better Service (File via Weblitz, Flickr)

Service workers are often customers’ first experience with your business. That’s one group of workers you want to be sure to know and engage with so they feel great about working for you and share their enthusiasm for your business with customers!

It’s no surprise then, that an engaged service group can also significantly boost customer retention.

However, recent Gallup research shows:

“Service workers are among the least engaged in the U.S. And their level of engagement has declined even as engagement has increased for every other job category.”

That’s from an article by Gallup’s Susan Sorenson and Keri Garman, titled “Getting the Most Out of the Employee-Customer Encounter.”

Omega Management Group echos this in the article, “Employee engagement is lowest among front-line workers.”

“Their attitude and commitment can mean the difference between successful sales and lost opportunities. This makes it important for companies in every industry to implement employee engagement practices as a way to improve customer satisfaction.”

What Do Service Workers Want?

To fully engage service workers, companies need to understand what motivates them.  That means getting to know them – understanding what would make their work lives easier and more productive, and what would make them more successful in addressing customer needs?  What motivates them to do a great job for you?

Author Rob Markey, a partner and director at Bain & Company, in a Harvard Business Review article, “Engage Employees Using Customer Service Tactics,” weighs in on why businesses fail to engage frontline employees:

“In my view, it boils down to a startling disconnect between how companies try to promote engagement and what truly inspires and motivates employees.”

Rather than having human resources “own” employee engagement and measure it with long annual surveys, he suggests short, frequent, easy to complete questionnaires like those given to customers. This respects employees’ time and you ask only the few questions that yield the most important insights. He recommends doing short surveys often enough to generate a steady stream of information about engagement levels and ideas for improvement.

Engaged Service Workers = Happy Customers

Markey observes engaged service workers makes for happy customers:

“Employees learn how to wow customers and feel great when they do. Customers love the experience. It’s a virtuous cycle and it leads to great financial performance.”

To Engage Service Workers, Treat Them Like Customers

Markey says managers should be responsible for engaging service workers. They are in the best position to know and understand the needs and motivations of service worker reports.

That’s how it’s done at Apple stores.

“After each [employee] survey wave, store managers review the data for their store. Employee focus groups identify key themes and issues, and employee teams help develop solutions, which they present to store management. There is no waiting for analysis and recommendations from some central team. By the time the next survey comes around in a few months, managers and store employees know whether their solutions have had the desired effect.”

To engage service workers, companies often focus on overall workplace improvements and benefits because those things can be directed by human resources or another back-office group. They’re the “easy” things to do, Markey writes, and they’re an important start: A safe and pleasant work environment, fair compensation, and the tools needed to do the job are essential for employee satisfaction.

But what you really want isn’t just satisfied employees, it’s passionate employees—people who love working for your company, love your products and services, and love wowing customers. You build that kind of advocacy by creating a real commitment to enriching your customers’ lives, giving employees the tools and freedom to delight customers, and helping them see and hear the effects of their actions.”

Kevin Kruse, bestselling author of Employee Engagement 2.0 and Employee Engagement for Everyone quotes former Campbell’s Soup CEO, Doug Conant in a Forbes article, “What Is Employee Engagement”:

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”

Wise words. Invest in engaging and celebrating your service workers and your business will thrive!

For a comprehensive guide to growing a sustained workplace culture of engagement and appreciation, download our FREE eBook: Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.
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