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How Employee Engagement Impacts Customer Engagement

In going through our discovery process with clients who come to us looking to increase customer engagement, we often determine that a significant reason for less than ideal customer engagement is a low level of employee engagement.

At Centricity, we typically operate from the premise that “You must capture the minds and hearts of your employees—so they can, in turn, captivate your customers.”

Legendary business leader, J. Willard Marriott, always advised his managers to “Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers.” It seems the entire science of engagement can be distilled into that simple, yet profound statement.

It is evident that there is there a link between employee engagement and customer engagement. For many years, Centricity has worked with Marriott and its expansive family of brands, managing numerous recognition programs that highlight and celebrate engaged employees who deliver great service to their guests.

While we have acquired anecdotal evidence of the connection between employee engagement and customer engagement over our decades of work with the Fortune 1000, you don’t need to take our word for it. 

Measuring Employee Engagement

One very powerful metric that correlates the connection is a Net Promoter Score (NPS). If you aren’t familiar with Net Promoter Scores, you should be. Developed several years ago by Fred Reichheld and researchers from Bain & Company, NPS scores are based on the likelihood of employees or customers to recommend your business to a friend or colleague. Simple enough, but very powerful too.

Having deployed this scoring mechanism across many industries, Bain concluded: “Very few companies can achieve or sustain high customer loyalty without a cadre of loyal, engaged employees.”

By definition, engaged employees exhibit enthusiasm for both their work and for the company that employees them. The energy they exude is infectious, positively impacting both colleagues and customers.

The Benefits of Engaged Employees

When an employee is enthusiastic about the company they work for, they perform at higher levels. Engaged employees are more likely to uncover creative solutions and offer up new ideas for enhancing processes and services than their less engaged coworkers. They bring a passion and energy to their performance that ensures better business results and delivers enhanced experiences for the customers they serve.

While there is no shortage of empirical evidence to support the correlation between engaged employees and happy customers, it’s likely you have ample evidence of this based on your own experience as a consumer.

Think back to the last time you referred a business to a friend. It almost invariably includes a positive service experience that was delivered by an enthusiastic, energetic employee. Or consider recent times spent waiting in lines – at airports, or the grocery store or even the DMV.

Your experience is always directly proportional to the amount of energy and enthusiasm (AKA engagement) you encounter from the clerk or agent that greets you when your time in line is up. If you are greeted with a friendly smile, a positive attitude and an eagerness to help, the frustration of time spent in line decreases accordingly. If however, the clerk or agent is impersonal, slow-moving and clearly unmotivated to help you, then your frustration mounts.

Despite the rapid advances in technology, the acceleration of change and the globalization of the workforce, success in business is still really all about relationships. We’d all do well to follow Mr. Marriott’s sage advice to take care of your employees, so they’ll take care of your customers.  The results are well worth it.

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