Engaged employees, customer service, performance... and profitability
When we launched the Customer Engagement Network over three years ago in the wake of the banking crisis and economic global meltdown it was because we had a vision for the future.
That vision was that organisations would be facing a perfect storm – with the elements of that storm being the greater need for customer retention strategies, the requirement to engage customers across an increasing proliferation of service channels, the fact that ‘smart’ customers would increasingly dictate those channels meaning organisations would have to ditch their old ‘silo’ mentalities, and last but not least that organisations would need to have a greater focus on engaging their people to deliver great customer service across those channels.
While I think most of you reading this blog would be nodding your heads by now, in terms of the realities of the way we interact with customers as 2012 comes to a close, it is the employee and customer engagement part of my vision that I want to concentrate on in this post – because I firmly believe it underpins everything else.
Two years ago now the Customer Engagement Network held its first ever ‘face to face’ event. It was the first of our now well established and hugely successful Directors Forums series and its subject matter was Employee and Customer Engagement, Performance and Profitability.
It was fitting that the Directors Forum was held at Gallup’s HQ in London because my first exposure to the frankly shocking levels of employee engagement in the UK and globally came a few years earlier in a Gallup survey that showed one in four UK employees were ‘actively disengaged’ with their jobs – of all the countries surveyed in Europe only France had more disengaged employees!
That sowed the seeds for me and the presentation I remember best from that first ever Directors Forum came from Amanda Reynolds from the world’s biggest building society Nationwide – and for me Amanda’s job title said it all ‘’head of employee and customer engagement’. Yes Nationwide get it and it’s little wonder that the building society is one of the few really trusted brands in a financial services sector that continues to reel from customer engagement crisis to customer engagement crisis.
Amanda made a fantastic presentation and Nationwide are continuing to focus successfully on that key link between employee engagement, customer engagement, performance and profitability. Amanda has committed to presenting an update on the Nationwide work in this area for us next year.
But since that pivotal Directors Forum two years ago much more has happened in this space. The following spring, and following on from the earlier publication of the influential 'Engage For Success' report on employee engagement from David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, Prime Minister David Cameron launched a Task Force to investigate the matter in depth.
The work of that Task Force came to fruition earlier this month with the launch of a new website resource and publication of a report citing case studies where employee engagement has indeed led to higher customer engagement, performance and profitability – and following hard on the heels of that milestone in employee engagement came the launch of the new Employee Engagement Institute. For more details of both of these excellent initiatives visit our website www.customerengagementnetwork.com
And again I think that it is fitting that our next two Customer Engagement Network events are focusing on employee and customer engagement. Next week on November 27 we are running our inaugural Customer Engagement Summit and there is a whole section of that event dedicated to employee engagement – with David MacLeod himself presenting the opening keynote.
Then the following week on December 5 we have the third in our series of Directors Forums dedicated to employee and customer engagement – with case studies from the likes of M&S and an opening keynote from Jonathan Austin, founder of Best Companies, the people behind The Times Best Places to Work For initiative. Again more details can be found on www.customerengagementnetwork.com.
It is our people who deliver service – whatever the channel, offline, online, social or mobile. We must engage our people to engage our customers. Those of us that do will reap the rewards that our ever more demanding customers have in their power to bestow. Those of us that don’t can start looking for the exit.