Is your customer-facing team engaged at work?

We don't mean that they show up every day, make the dials, and go home. Are they engaged and invested in making your company -- and its customers -- successful?

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Temkin Group found that employee engagement is one of four customer experience core competencies -- in other words, if your employees aren't engaged at work and in your business, the customer experience will suffer.

In this post, let's review the benefits of employee engagement, then we'll discuss some strategies you can use to improve engagement at your business.

Employee engagement is an important metric to track because of its relationship to customer satisfaction. The happier your employees are, the better service they'll provide to customers. If your employees are more engaged with your business they'll be more committed to your customers' needs.

But, that's not the only benefit of employee engagement. Let's review a few more in the section below.

Benefits of Employee Engagement

1. Stronger Corporate Alignment

When employees are more engaged with your business, they're more likely to contribute to its success. For example, The Temkin Groups' study found that when employees are more engaged with their work, they're five times more likely to pitch an idea that will improve the company.

Even if they're not contributing new ideas, engaged employees are still three times more likely to work later if something needs to be done. That type of dedication to a goal will help your team meet deadlines and achieve long-term success.

2. Delightful Customer Experiences

As we mentioned above, employee engagement can lead to an increase in customer satisfaction. That's because engaged employees create more delightful experiences for customers since they're more invested in the product and business.

In The Temkin Group study, 79% of companies with engaged employees had a significantly better customer experience than companies who didn't. These companies have happier employees who are more willing to provide above-and-beyond customer service.

3. Improved Customer Relations

Over time, a consistently delightful customer experience builds rapport with your customer base. Customers learn to trust that your business and its employees are devoted to their short- and long-term success. This leads to customer advocacy as people will start to share their positive experiences with potential leads.

You can encourage these referrals by asking loyal customers to provide testimonials. These stories show potential leads how wonderful your service is. After all, people are more willing to trust customer stories over your brand's advertisements.

4. Smoother Internal Collaboration

Employee engagement not only leads to better customer interactions but also internal interactions. When everyone is aligned towards the same goal, it becomes much easier for teams to work across departments. Fewer data silos arise and tasks get completed without any frustrating roadblocks or red tape.

For example, if marketing needs to partner with sales on a campaign, it's easier to do so if everyone values each other's goals. Sales will be more willing to collaborate with marketing if they understand how the marketing team's problem is related to their department's long-term success. When employees are invested in your business, teams start to work with each other rather than against them.

Here's an infographic from Temkin Group, that discusses more benefits of employee engagement -- including its value for your business, your customers, and how you can harness its power for everyone's benefit.

1802_EmployeeEngagement_Infographic-1

Now that we've covered the importance of employee engagement, let's dive into some strategies you can use to improve it at your business.

1. Employee Feedback Program

If you want to get employees engaged, they have to feel like part of your company. They need to know that management values their input and cares about what they have to say.

Adopting an employee feedback program is a great way to stay in tune with your employees' opinions. Surveys like eNPS give your company both quantitative and qualitative insight into what your employees are thinking about your business. This data makes it easier to sort through feedback and create actionable responses for your team.

2. Peer Recognition

Sometimes, employees don't need approval from management. Instead, they value what their peers think of them and their work.

In these cases, you can offer a peer recognition program where employees can reward each other. At HubSpot, we have a quarterly program where employees give a teammate a bonus if that employee helped them in any way. That not only provides us with an incentive to work hard, but also encourages us to collaborate with other employees.

3. Brainstorming Sessions

Every employee can offer something unique to your business. However, not every employee has the chance to voice their ideas to management. They may be too shy to volunteer their pitch or can't find the right time to bring it up. This is where brainstorming sessions can pool together your team's knowledge and produce ground-breaking solutions.

Brainstorming sessions don't need to be complex. You can hold quarterly or bi-quarterly meetings that are open to all employees. Here, employees can pitch new ideas and collaborate on approved projects. This will give employees the chance to provide their own contribution to your business and work on something that they're truly passionate about.

4. Company or Team Awards

No matter the industry you're a part of, awards are a great way to bring out competition. Friendly competition between employees helps teams accomplish tasks quicker and meet deadlines on time. That's because multiple employees are motivated to work their hardest towards the same goal. 

When giving out awards at your company, be sure to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. Think about your team's goals and come up with a few awards that recognize different people with ranging strengths. Every award should be unbiased so that all employees have an equal chance of winning it. 

5. Team Contests and Competition

One quickfire way to get employees engaged is to hold a contest. Set a goal and offer a reward for the employee or team that achieves it first. So long as the reward is worth the investment, employees with work their hardest to win the prize. 

At HubSpot Support, we held contests for both individual reps and support teams. For example, we often had competitions to see who could have the highest NPS for a week. Once the scores were totaled, the team or rep with the best NPS would win a free dinner, team event, or even sports tickets. Surprise challenges like these were an effective way of shaking things up while still working towards a business goal. 

6. Volunteer Training

In an interview with The Corp, co-founder of Quest Nutrition, Tom Bilyeu highlights the important role that skills play in career development. He recommends that people focus more on developing their professional skills rather than earning money. In the long-run, this will lead to happier employees because they have the resources and experience needed to achieve their aspirations. 

You can empower employees at your business by hosting volunteer training sessions. Ask management to set time aside in their day and come up with a few 30- to 60-minute lessons. They don't have to be specific to their role and instead, can focus on general skills like communication, professionalism, and leadership. 

7. Guest Speakers

In some cases, employees can be inspired by an external source. If you have access to a person your team admires and emulates, invite that role model to speak at your business. Provide them with a topic you'd like to see covered and let them talk about it to your employees in-depth. This is a great way to outline the path your employees need to take to achieve professional success. 

8. Corporate Culture Committee

Adopting one or two of the programs above will certainly drive some immediate engagement. However, to drive long-term employee engagement, you need to make a real investment in your corporate culture. You need to make passion and hard work the cornerstone of your company so that it's expected from all current and new employees. 

A corporate culture committee is a great place to start when building your team culture. Assign your best employees to this committee and have them identify the most significant problems your team is facing. They'll act as the liaison between management and the rest of the team when it comes to enacting internal changes. 

Now that we've laid out some employee engagement ideas, let's review a few best practices to keep in mind when putting these strategies into play. 

Employee Engagement Best Practices

1. Create variety.

Your employees are going to have ranging interests and skills. So, there isn't going to be one engagement program that rallies your entire team. Using a few of these strategies together is the best way to ensure 100% engagement.

2. Recognize outstanding performance.

When employees go above and beyond, it's important to highlight that for the rest of your team. Not only does this make the individual feel more valued for the work they're doing, but it also sets an example for your other employees. They'll understand the standard you're looking for and what they need to do to surpass expectations. 

3. Start from the bottom.

Your executives and managers are typically not your target audience for employee engagement programs. That's because these employees are probably very invested in your company since they hold higher positions with more responsibilities. It's your entry-level and lower-management employees that you need to focus on. Since there are more of them than upper-management, getting these employees on board should be your top priority. 

4. Make expectations clear.

Some companies don't value engagement, so employees aren't required to participate in these activities. Other businesses want to build a strong internal community, so they expect employees to get involved and volunteer. Wherever your business stands, be sure your expectations are outright and clear to your team.

5. Hire and retain the right people.

At the end of the day, the most engaged employees are the ones who are the best fit for your business. They're not only passionate about your company and its industry, but they're also actively looking for new ways to contribute and add value. These people are hard to find, so be on the constant lookout for them and when you hire one, invest their career so they do the same for your business. 

To learn more about keeping employees engaged at work, read our list of free customer service training materials.

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Originally published Oct 22, 2019 7:00:00 AM, updated October 22 2019

Topics:

Customer Service & Support Training