We all perform better with a good team around us. Any CEO with an ounce of sense will mention his/her team as the driving force of his success, but does it really matter if employees are engaged? Surely the key is whether or not customers are satisfied?
In service organisations (which dominate the Irish economy), it very much does matter. In these organisations the brand lives or dies when the customer is using the service that you’re providing. Unlike product brands, whose promise is delivered in the quality of the product that is being consumed, service brands depend on the behaviour of the people in the organisation as they interact with customers on the ground, or work together in the background to craft the best solution for customers. A very pertinent illustration of this is playing out in front of us in the Irish healthcare sector at the moment.
There is strong evidence to show the link between staff engagement and the experience of service users in healthcare. Kings Fund research in the UK in 20121 showed that the more positive the experiences of healthcare staff at work within an NHS Trust, the better the outcomes for patients in that Trust. Staff engagement was found to have many positive significant associations with patient satisfaction, patient mortality, infection rates, as well as staff absenteeism and staff turnover. There is a direct co-relation between the level of engagement and positive health outcomes - the more engaged staff members are, the better the outcomes for patients and the healthcare service provider generally. Food for thought surely for our new Minister for Health, Simon Harris.
It is unsurprising that this equation is also evident outside the healthcare environment. Tempkin Group published the fifth instalment of its annual survey of US employees in February this year and the research evidenced again that those companies with more engaged employees enjoy stronger financial performances and deliver better customer experience than their peers.
At W5, we consider employee engagement in the context of Gideon Rosenblatt’s ‘engagement pyramid’ (see illustration). This sets out the steps required to create employee awareness of the need to manage customer experience to becoming leaders, driving great customer experiences with themselves as at the centre. Commitment to this process creates the Holy Grail – the customer-centric organisation – from which many tangible benefits flow for the business.
To create momentum towards customer-centricity and generate these benefits, we have a few tips-
Or… you could avoid all this investment in employees altogether and use the Giff Gaff approach.
Giff Gaff (an old Scottish Gaelic word which means ‘mutual giving’) is a virtual mobile network which has no customer service phone lines. Yes, you read that right! Non-account specific problems are raised via an online message board system and are answered by other Giff Gaff members, in exchange for ‘payback points’. Launched in 2009, Giff Gaff acquired 400,000 members in 2014 replicating 2013’s growth, to become the third largest player in the virtual mobile space.
Given the experience many of us have with our mobile providers they have likely succeeded because of, not despite, the lack of customer service lines.
Managing Director, W5 (CCXP)
1 Employee engagement and NHS performance, West and Dawson, The Kings Fund 2012
Article published Marketing.ie September 2016
Published: 18 Aug 2016