Why You Should Treat Employees Like Your Best Customers.
In a competitive market, customer loyalty is everything. Keep your customers coming back for more and encourage them to become loyal brand advocates, and profitable growth is a given.
The same is true of employee loyalty. Your staff are on the frontline, serving customers, or they’re supporting customer experience behind the scenes. They represent your brand and bring it to life. And their personal experience of your brand follows the same journey as your customer’s.
So let’s see how you can improve that experience at every moment of truth, from hiring onwards. Because if you do, you’ll have happy, engaged employees – which means they’ll be more productive, efficient and loyal, and they’ll become your best brand advocates.
Phase 1. Awareness and consideration
When a customer begins considering your product or service as an option, it all comes down to how they perceive your brand. It’s the same for recruitment. What does your employer brand look like? Do you have an internal value proposition your staff understand and share? How do you build awareness of the benefits of working with your organisation?
The truth is, the best talent has a choice about who they work for. They’re looking for a positive workplace culture, and by making your employee value proposition clear you define ‘what it’s like to work here’.
Start by answering the most important question staff rarely voice: what’s in it for me? The real answer is never just about salary – it’s about shared values, experiences, opportunities and all the other benefits you provide.
Phase 2. The moment of purchase
Just as marketing and sales pay close attention to customer experience at that all important moment of conversion, it’s HR’s responsibility to make onboarding as seamless and (dare I say it) enjoyable as possible.
Technology is everything here. As consumers, we expect 24/7 access to information and intuitive self-service options. We need the same fast, convenient access to information in the workplace too – payroll and benefits records, IT support, coworker directories, latest company news and social notices. Without all that, new employees will get confused, frustrated – and be less productive from day one.
So how can you use technology to create the best onboarding experience? Can you automate some of the paperwork, and make forms as intuitive as possible? Do you have one platform for internal communication and shared services? Ultimately, you want every new staff member to go home at the end of their first week feeling confident, happy and ready to rave about their experience.
Phase 3. Product usage and engagement
Customers may interact with your product a few times a day or week. Employees are engaging with you every single day, for eight hours a day. So how do you make that experience consistent and positive?
Building a collaborative, supportive workplace culture is one factor. So is continual training, development and feedback. And recognition really matters. Can you reward your staff for consistently great work, in the same way you reward customers for continuing to purchase or return to your store?
This is about more than an ‘employee of the month’ certificate. Empower staff to choose the rewards they want. Let them accumulate ‘loyalty points’ and redeem them for money-can’t-buy experiences or products. Setting up these systems can be much easier (and more affordable) than you might think.
Phase 4. Customer loyalty, retention and advocacy
If you get each stage of the customer journey right, you’ll create a loyal customer who’ll not only continue buying from you – they’ll tell their friends and colleagues.
This is the Holy Grail for employee retention. Satisfied staff work harder, contribute more, call in sick less. They stick with you – and that has significant bottom line benefits for your recruitment bill. And they rave about you, which not only attracts new talent, it also attracts new customers.
So what’s the key to satisfaction? According to the Virgin Pulse 2015 survey Labor of Love, benefits (aside from salary) matter. That could be core benefits – such as super and health insurance – or programs and resources, such as free fitness classes or health clubs, financial wellbeing programs or professional development plans. The trick is to make sure what you offer matches what they want.
Ultimately, this may require a major shift in HR culture. Long gone are the days where staff are just servants to the organisation. It’s time to start recognising them as people who are integral to its success, and who deserve the same respect as your most valued customers.
Ari Kopoulos is CEO at EmployeeConnect.