Engaging customers, employees
10 actions to ensure increased profits and productivity
Research has shown that organizations lose an estimated $83 billion each year due to defections and abandoned purchases as a result of poor customer relationships, making the creation of loyal, engaged customers and employees more important and challenging than ever. It requires successful marketing, building brand advocacy and an understanding that loyalty is not a single program, but rather a journey and strategic business goal.
What do business owners and top company leaders need to do to create an inviting workplace filled with engaged and enthusiastic employees that will drive customer loyalty, referrals and earnings? The best leaders are people who know how to listen, can make a promise and deliver on that promise, and who can step up to the plate and make the necessary investment to successfully engage their employees.
This is best achieved by connecting the vision, values, purpose and business goals of the organization to individual values and needs. Here are some recommendations.
1. Develop your vision: Make sure you have a vision with the purpose and values to make it real. State clearly where you are going. Express your values – the things that you use to guide every action people take at work – directly. One of my favorite examples include, JetBlue’s “We bring humanity back to air travel” or Starbucks’ “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
2. Identify your leader type: Knowing what type of leader you are helps you and others identify where, when and how to best behave and act to focus their energy to achieve the goals and objectives that have been set forth.
3. Track your leadership development progress: Keep a leadership log to document what you do and what happens. Review what happens regularly. Learn, make changes and grow personally and professionally.
4. Recruit and retain the right people: Identify what makes individuals successful in your culture, and recruit for those skills. The culture will keep them loyal and happy, and exceed all expectations. Improve your interview and listening skills so you can hear what your employees are saying. Document and take immediate action when you identify something that needs to be improved.
5. Engage, empower and enrich your employees: Invite employees to become part of your vision. Empower them to be a force of change and be enriched by your culture. Make your employees part of the solutions, by giving them a role and the responsibility for implementing solutions to major business issues.
6. Create a work environment that fosters creativity and innovation: Go beyond simply improving the physical environment. Focus on how people feel to work there. Evaluate the energy when you walk the floors. How connected to their teams do virtual or remote workers feel? Make changes to ensure that the work environment fuels your objectives and helps to achieve your goals.
7. Appreciate and reward your employees: Develop and deploy a schedule that regularly and meaningfully rewards employees to create a culture of appreciation. Assess and improve the way you reward people so that you are sensitive and responsive to the differences in age, education, maturity and demographics.
8. Focus on the things that inspire your people: Do they need more education and training, more creative time and cross-training opportunities or wellness programs to promote less stress and better health? Develop and improve the key programs that your people need to stay engaged and loyal.
9. Improve the most important things first: Identify the most significant of your shortcomings head-on. Identify what is impacting your own progress and what is holding you back. Are you a poor listener, a technophobe, or do you yell and rave? Then take action to get help, fix your problem, and improve your own performance, skills and abilities.
10. Visualize the future: Identify where you see yourself in five, 10 or even 15 years. Define the characteristics of the leader you want to be and what the future looks like for you. Describe the way you will balance your personal life and that of your organization and its people. Document how you will build loyalty and trust with your leadership.
During today’s fast-moving, ever-changing times, creating a culture of engagement, reward, and community is more important than ever to fortify employee loyalty and productivity.
Dianne Durkin, president and founder of Portsmouth-based Loyalty Factor, can be reached at 603-334-3401.