Engaging Voices - Sybil Stershic

Consultant Sybil Stershic --author of the Quality Service Marketing blog and the book Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care-- is charting the connections between customer engagement and employee engagement. In her own words: "My professional passion is internal marketing - taking care of employees so they can take care of customers."

I'm pleased to present Sybil Stershic as the next Engaging Voice in the series.

Where In The “L” Are The Employees? by Sybil F. Stershic

I’ve been reading a lot of marketers’ advice to consumer and B2B companies on how to weather the economic storm. The recurrent theme found in this advice can be summed up as:

- Listen to your customers
- Learn their hot buttons and
- Look for opportunities where you can be of value to your customers

Their advice is sound, but I find it lacking. Besides applying this “listen-learn-look” approach to customers, companies need to focus equally on their employees.

Here’s what I suggest.

• Listen to your employees. Supplement your customer research with qualitative feedback from frontline staff and other employees who have customer contact (such as sales and account reps). Ask employees to share what they’re hearing from customers and be alert to any changes in brand perceptions about your company and its competitors.

• Learn employees’ ideas on how to better serve customers within a framework of limited resources. Sharing the results of your customer research and collective feedback, encourage employees to explore how the company might be able to creatively and cost-effectively enhance the customers’ experience.

• Look for opportunities to strengthen workplace engagement. Besides getting their feedback and ideas on serving customers, involve employees in identifying and developing the resources they need in this challenging environment. For example, employees may find ways to effectively share their in-house expertise with each other when the training & development budget is limited.

Being attentive to employees can help your company in the short term ala the Hawthorne effect. By also responding to their input (i.e., don’t let employees’ ideas collect in a black hole) and recognizing their involvement in the process, you’ll be able to better engage both employees and customers in your company’s future.

[Copyright 2009 by Sybil Stershic. All Rights Reserved.]

Posted by Terrence Seamon, March 3, 2009


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