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First Things First Create Employee Loyalty to Drive Customer Loyalty

Jay Forte
 


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Customer loyalty is the backbone of all successful companies. Loyal customers advance both the suppliers’ and customers’ businesses, they partner for mutual success and they are actually less expensive to maintain. So why is it so difficult to create truly loyal customers? Generally it is because a company has not spent enough time at the foundation level establishing a core culture that responds to and encourages exceptional employee loyalty. Loyal customers can only be created by loyal employees. And employee loyalty must be a strategic commitment of management.

The greatest numbers of businesses in North America are now service-based; much of manufacturing has moved offshore. A service business is an intellectual business as it requires each employee to respond creatively and intellectually to each service event. Gone are the days of performing the same task day in and day out. . . now successful companies rely on the passionate intellectual (thinking) performance of their employees. The more dynamic, creative and innovative their thinking is, the greater the ability to truly impress customers and move them from satisfied (they may come back) to loyal (they will come back).

So, first things first. How do we get our employees to provide their most dynamic, creative and innovative thinking? This is what is referred to as intellectual capital. We live and work in an age where success happens in the quality of our thinking; this thinking then drives our responses. The more employees actively think and use their intellectual capacity, the greater the connection to their workplace; this inspires greater responses to customers and greater organizational success.

Statistics show that 65% of employees do not fully use their intellectual capacity in the workplace. . .in fact, these employees do just enough so they don't get fired. Another 17% of employees do as little as possible and do not care whether they will be fired (they anticipate finding a better job). That means that 82% of the workforce does not contribute their dynamic, creative and innovative responses. Or to put it another way, that means that only 18% of all employees are actively engaged, connected, loyal to their workplaces. . . they show up each day contributing their best with a focus on creating customer loyalty and great results.

Our facts are now that customer loyalty is based first on employee loyalty; more than three quarters of employees do not feel significant loyalty to their companies. So, first things first. . . what helps create loyal employees? Consider these three perspectives to drive employee performance and therefore customer loyalty:

  • Employees are hired for and allowed to use their talents in their role - there has been much written lately about the difference between talents and skills. Talents are the intrinsic and natural gifts that an employee has. All employees feel more competent and productive when using their natural abilities. Spending time with employees to clearly define his/her talents and then customizing jobs to include them helps employees feel more connected, interested and competent in their roles. This commitment or engagement shows itself in the extra effort and greater responses with customers required to move customers from satisfied to loyal. This new style of management is now focused on spending time with employees to help them feel happy in the workplace and in their roles.

  • A strong employee focused core architecture or company culture exists. Core architecture is the employee-focused framework or the support network found in the company culture. It is the behavior of the organization that shows an employee that he is an asset of the company, worthy of investing in. This is decidedly different than much of today's conventional or transactional thinking that employees are disposable or are expenses to be managed. Core architecture includes:

    o A clearly defined and vision and mission supported by strategies.

    o A sound and professional employee selection process

    o A dynamic orientation and inclusion process

    o A fair and attainable reward and incentive process

    o A fair and recurring performance review and feedback process

    o Regular and recurring skill development (training)

    o Regular and recurring career development and succession planning

    Organizations that work to create a partnership relationship with its employees by listening to them and creating a culture and environment that supports them (by creating a strong core architecture) significantly improve their response to customers. Employees now see a supportive and encouraging culture which inspires a more dedicated and committed effort, required to turn satisfied customers into loyal customers.

  • Each employee has a strong relationship with his/her manager. The greatest influence on an employee is his/her manager. Remember the quote, “people quit people before they quit companies. " The manager is the person who influences the level of employee performance and how long the employee will stay by his/her interaction with the employee and his/her role in creating an engaging workplace and culture. From the employee's perspective, the local manager is the embodiment of senior management and the company. Interactive managers who care about their employees, focus on helping them continually perform at the best, provide consistent performance based feedback, reward fairly and competitively and develop continually get the commitment and attention of their employees. The employees now feel that the organization is worth the extra effort that will be required to create an environment that customers will now deem to be worth committing to.

    Customer loyalty starts first with employee loyalty. For customers to become loyal, organizations need to consistently provide extraordinary (not ordinary) responses. This can only happen when each member of the workforce is actively engaged and committed to exceptional performance. Employees control their effort level; the organization can provide the incentive for this effort level to be exceptional.

    Jay Forte is a powerful performance speaker, consultant, author and founder of Humanetrics, LLC. He works with managers who want to be more successful in activating and inspiring exceptional employee performance, to significantly drive customer loyalty and improve company profitability. Jay, a CPA/financial executive turned educator, turned consultant, is renowned for producing significant results. He is a highly engaging speaker and is working on an upcoming book “Fire Up Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition; How to Invite, Incite and Ignite Performance" For information on keynotes, seminars and consulting, or to see the daily “BLOGucation, " visit: http://www.humanetricsllc.com his new site http://www.fireupyouremployees.com or call: 401-338-3505.

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