Today’s customer demands consistently great service. Industries like retail and hospitality have come to understand the importance of well-trained, inspired employees who know what it means to be an extension of the brand they represent.
However, many organizations that don’t fall into the traditional customer service industry forget about one of their most powerful branding tools – their employees. If the employees don’t believe the values of the organization, it will certainly show.
Poor service scores, declining customer satisfaction and a loss of customer loyalty can all be indicators of a lack of employee buy-in. It’s a problem that can be addressed, but it takes discipline and time that many organizations are not willing to give. Employee engagement is not just about winning a “Best Places to Work” award – it’s about teaching your employees to be an extension of your brand.
A solid internal communications strategy can make the difference between a good organization and a great one; bottom decile customer satisfaction scores to top decile. Helping your employees to truly understand what your organization stands for and how they are a part of that are key.
For example, we worked with a Fortune 500 company that had declining customer satisfaction scores. We started with a series of discovery meetings with each of their key divisions – the meetings served not only to inform the strategy, but also to ensure that there was buy-in from every group in the organization. Because of the communications strategy developed, it was critical that ALL employees believed the messages that were being shared. Not only did they need to believe it, they needed to be excited about it.
Working with the client, we developed an internal communications plan (not just a series of messages from leadership) to make sure that every employee, from the CEO to the recent grad starting their first job, understood the campaign and how they were critical to the success of the organization.
Once the campaign was launched externally, the employees had already bought in. And talk about results – this company has gone from bottom decile customer service scores to top decile.
Healthcare is another industry we work with that has struggled with customer satisfaction. In this article on Forbes.com, Micah Soloman says, “Every patient’s interaction with healthcare is judged based on expectations set by the best players in hospitality industry, the financial services industry, and other areas where expert players have made a science of customer service.” Solomon goes on to tie this to employee engagement: “A particularly crucial aspect of great patient service is ensuring that every employee—from orientation onward—understands her particular underlying purpose in your organization and appreciates its importance. An employee has both a function—his day-to-day job responsibilities—and a purpose—the reason why the job exists.”
When healthcare organizations link employee engagement to customer service scores, they begin to understand how to address the root of some key issues.
We have some experience in this area. Working with a state-run academic medical center that needed to change its perception to adjust its payer mix, we once again began the campaign internally. The goal: become known as a center of excellence, not a place you hear about on the 10pm news. Following research and development of a solid strategy, the new messaging was rolled out internally – where employees needed to believe it first. This was another case of using discipline and it paying off in the long run. They met their payer mix goals and have become known as one of the leading academic medical centers.
The bottom line – it’s never too late to begin an internal communications strategy, but it is critical. We believe the most successful campaigns are built on a solid foundation, and it all starts with your employees.