Razor Suleman

The Third Dimension of Employee Engagement: Customer-Driven Recognition

By Razor Suleman
September 1, 2011

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Many organizations have a customer service plan and a program for recognizing and rewarding employees, but in most cases, these programs fail to create a direct line of communication between customers and employees. These companies are missing an opportunity to maximize both employee engagement and customer satisfaction. A truly successful rewards and recognition program must reach outside the company’s walls to drive measurable results.

It’s been shown that engaged, satisfied, and loyal employees consistently lead to engaged, satisfied, and loyal customers. However, this relationship is a two-way street. When employees are able to see how what they do directly impacts consumers, they’re more like to invest time, energy, and passion into giving the best possible customer experience. Employees want to know they’re part of their company’s overall vision and that the work they do is important. Timely, meaningful recognition from customers infuses employees with a sense of purpose. 

Your company is already getting real-time feedback through social media, impacting your brand image and business success. What customers say matters to your brand identity—but it also matters to your employees. Your employees strive for customer satisfaction, and when your customers say positive things about your brand, your employees are further motivated and engaged. An outlet for customers to give feedback directly to employees creates a positive feedback loop of engagement. 

The Missing Link in the Service-Profit Chain
In the 1990s, researchers at Harvard University found a correlation between excellent customer service and business growth. Engaged employees led to a more satisfied, loyal customer base, which in turn led to higher profits. With the growing popularity of social media, companies now have the opportunity to get real-time feedback about their brand through online conversations. But there is a missing link: the one that connects customers directly to employees. 

Engaged Customers Lead to Engaged Employees
Employees grow increasingly engaged when they’re able to see how their work impacts the company’s bottom line. Customers are already talking about your brand online; when employees get feedback that is specific to them, they understand how their work contributes to the company’s overall goals. Providing customer-driven recognition allows employees to get meaningful feedback about the work they do and puts an emphasis on customer service. The result is greater employee engagement. 

Inspire Creative Solutions
When employees are directly connected to customers they’re more likely to work hard to come up with unique solutions for every customer. Rather than micromanage or get bogged down in procedure, give your employees the autonomy and freedom to satisfy customers. Then, track results with an online solution. 

Take Out the Middleman
Managers often feel pressured or strained when it comes to recognizing their employees. Creating a direct line of feedback between customers and employees saves managers time and energy when it comes to tracking results. Managers can assess cumulative results and trends to reward overall performance. 

Strive for Timely, Specific Customer Feedback
They key benefit of customer-driven recognition is that it is specific to each employee and a particular behavior. The employee understands exactly why the recognition was given and thus is more like to repeat positive behaviors in the future. For example, the I Love Rewards customer feedback module provides customers with custom links to a form where they can provide specific feedback about a product, service or employee. The forms are fully customizable so that each employer chooses the feedback they want to capture. Your employees can get immediate recognition from customers based on specific behaviors, and you can monitor overall performance and trends in feedback. 

A direct line of feedback increases employee engagement, building customer loyalty and ultimately growing your business. Implementing a program that enables customers to communicate with your employees improves customer experience, promotes your brand, and ultimately drives business success.   

Razor Suleman is the CEO and founder of I Love Rewards, a provider of web-based employee rewards and recognition. I Love Rewards works with North American employers to recruit, retain, and inspire employees, and drive results most important to business success. For more information, visit www.iloverewards.com.
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