Employee engagement

Many of us would agree that the recipe for a successful business and loyal customers requires a number of key ingredients including product, price, quality, consistency and environment. And, even if this mix is perfect, without great service, a business is at risk of losing customers to its competitors. Quality of service is the most important ingredient.

Studies have shown that customers who have a good experience with a business will tell one other person. If they have a bad experience, they will share it with 10 of their friends. A business cannot afford to lose the customer service battle.

How can your business maximize its chances of delivering excellent customer service on a consistent basis? First, you have to hire the right people. When you are confident that the right people are on your team, it’s important to create an environment that supports employee engagement.

What’s the difference between simple “employee satisfaction” and “employee engagement?” It may be nuanced, but it is vital. Employees who are satisfied with their jobs may be content to go to work, are dependable and perform well. However, studies show that employees who are engaged show a measure of discretionary effort, enthusiasm and loyalty that sets them apart from their peers.

According to a 2013 Gallup report, State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders, employers found higher rates of productivity, profitability and customer ratings among businesses with the most engaged employees. Additionally, there was less turnover, absenteeism and fewer safety incidents.

Engaged employees tend to be advocates for their business both on and off the job. They treat the business as if it were their own, perform their jobs with integrity, tend to find creative solutions to problems and build loyalty to the business through their relationships with clients.

I work in a business which measures customer satisfaction every week and employee engagement every year. Through our own research, we have found a direct correlation between highly engaged employees and customer satisfaction. Year over year, if employee engagement increases, customer service scores also rise.

If you’re convinced that employee engagement is critical to your success, do a realistic assessment of your team. Are your employees ambivalent, or worse, disengaged? If the answer is yes, it’s time to make some changes.

According the Management Study Guide, while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to leveraging employee engagement, there are a number of broad engagement drivers which should be considered:

• Work/Job Role – Employees must see a link between their role and the role of the organization or business. Understanding this linkage provides an intrinsic motivation and increased engagement.

• Work Environment/Organization Culture – The bond between an employee and the organization is cemented when the employee identifies with the culture of the business. An employee is engaged and motivated to stretch beyond the call of duty if s/he finds the work environment enabling and supportive, with the tools and supplies to do his/her job.

• Rewards and Recognition – Team members want to feel valued for their contribution. Celebrate the big things and the small wins. And, make it personal.

• Performance Management – Set clear expectations and goals. Provide honest, candid and caring feedback that demonstrates your support of the employee and standards for the business.

• Open Communication – Listen to the ideas and suggestions of your team. Encourage input to generating new ideas and solutions.

• Leadership – Most people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss! Continue to develop your skills as a leader. Great leaders will create an environment that will engage team members and drive results.

By leveraging employee engagement you will improve your chances of delivering excellent customer service and beating the competition.

• Beth Amoroso, director of human resources at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, is vice chair of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

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