There’s a link between employee engagement and customer loyalty
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from LoyaltyTruth.com, a blog published by Hanifin Loyalty.
In the February issue of Direct Marketing, one part of the feature story, "Fickle About Loyalty," that particularly caught my attention was the statement that customers may not be "the only stakeholders to focus on when the goal is to improve customer loyalty." The implication was that employees are equally critical.
An often-cited Gallup study from 2011 showed that only 30 percent of U.S. workers employed full- or part-time are engaged in their work and workplace, while approximately half are not engaged. Nearly one in five were actively disengaged.
How does it affect loyalty programs? When asked by a store associate, cashier, or salesperson if I’d like to join their rewards program, I habitually ask them, "What’s it about," "How does it work" and "Is it "worth joining?" The responses range from a shrug accompanied by a "Whatever" to enthusiasm that makes me feel like I’m about to take advantage of a great opportunity.
It’s easier said than done to expect front-line personnel in a business to be enthusiastic promoters of the business itself. Generally speaking, the front-line people are in the lowest pay bands and many feel that they are being manipulated by reduced hours and inconvenient schedules.
In an interview with LoyaltyTruth, Paul Hebert, a lead consultant with Symbolist and an expert in the behavioral arts and employee engagement, believes it’s unrealistic to aim for fully engaged staffs, but feels stores should "begin measuring — with whatever tool you find helpful — and then start working to move the needle."
An often-missed first step is eliminating the causes of disengagement before trying to "engage" anyone. Causes could be management practices, pay/benefits not in line with the industry, or friction within the work environment setup.
Once the disengagement drivers are addressed, the push toward engagement should find ways to:
- Give employees input in their job structure and activity;
- Give employees some flexibility in "how" they accomplish an objective;
- Show progress in their jobs and their careers;
- Transfer some responsibility for engagement to the employee;
- Reward and recognize their contributions and make it visible in the organization.
"The keys to engagement are pretty universal — but they manifest differently at each organization," said Mr. Hebert. "Don’t think you can put together a Zappos program at a 100 year old manufacturing plant. Not going to work."
- Employee Engagement and Customer Loyalty – LoyaltyTruth
- Fickle About Loyalty – Direct Marketing
- Engaged Workers See Glass as Half-Full – EEA
To what extent do you think employee engagement is tied to customer loyalty? What do you see as the largest causes of disengagement and what tips do you have for improving it?