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At Loyalty360, we’ve seen from our research that many brands have been successful in improving the customer experience through employee engagement initiatives. The basic thinking behind these initiatives is that the key to achieving customer loyalty is to focus on employee happiness. Research from other organizations backs up our findings on this point, including the esteemed Harvard Business Review.
One HBR article, for example, lays out the success of employee engagement strategies quite strongly: “A happier workforce is clearly associated with companies’ ability to deliver better customer satisfaction—particularly in industries with the closest contact between workers and customers, including retail, tourism, restaurants, health care, and financial services.”
Recently, we spoke with Giles House, General Manager of SAP Sales Cloud at SAP Customer Experience, who has some advice for brands who want to tackle employee engagement. He believes, just as much research shows, that the best way for a brand to improve its customer experience is to improve the internal experience of its salespeople, the people who are interacting with the customer directly.
He said, “Those are the people whose experience matters the most. If you give them low friction processes so they can respond to customers easily, then the customer is going to get the experience they want. That’s why we’re focused on helping brands give their employees the right tools and opportunities to succeed.”
Doing so, House believes, enables brands to attract the best talent. House pointed out that the top salespersons, regardless of industry, just aren’t going to want to work for companies that make their jobs harder than they must be. The only way to attract quality associates is to offer them a first-class experience, House said.
To help brands offer this kind of employee experience, SAP uses an employee intelligence platform to diagnose which associates are struggling and why. This enables the company to offer training and other resources for employee improvement. “We can find out where employees are struggling,” House said. “Some people aren’t going to make it, and you have to churn them as quickly as possible. But the employees that can make it with some help will need a care package to do their jobs, and that’s why you diagnose areas where they’re struggling so you can help them. You have to do it in real time, though, and that’s unique to what we’re doing.”
He continued, “With the right tools, you can embed feedback capture into your processes. If you can do that, you can follow up with your reps and say, ‘What don’t you understand?’ That way you can get to individuals and solve specific needs. You can identify trends. Do we have someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing? Or do we have a systemic problem?”
House noted that many brands believe that incentivizing employees to improve net promoter scores is a good strategy. He disagrees, however. Instead, House believes that brands need to incentivize employees to make rapid responses, which improves NPS anyway. Methods for doing this will vary, but the point is to figure out why employees aren’t providing speedy response times and fix that problem in real time.
House said, “A lot of companies send out annual surveys to employees, but they aren’t useful. You have to embed real-time feedback tools in the tech that they use every day and capture and analyze that feedback at scale. Then you can figure out if you’ve got systemic issues or training problems. That way, brands can focus on what makes a salesperson’s life better and easier. Then, the customer wins from better employee interactions.”
House concluded, “Everyone gets CX. Fewer people know how to get there. What you can control is internal teams, partners. You have to teach state-of-the-art CX that works for all kinds of different customers. Hard, but you have to break the problem down and solve CX. Lots of time, salespeople are the highest friction point. It’s high stakes piece of the customer lifetime, and it’s something that’s been neglected.”
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