Empower your employees to help your customers.
Everything about the workplace has changed during the past year. During 2020 we all just tried to adjust as best we could, suddenly being thrust into remote workplaces, non-stop Zoom meetings, home-schooling our kids while working and trying to keep employees engaged while trying to stay engaged ourselves.
Relationships with customers changed as well. Both B2B and B2C customers now look for ways to do business online and in-person that works for their unique needs and situation. Progressive organizations are embracing strategies focused on customer-centricity.
At its core, customer centricity is:
- A driving cultural shift in how organizations view their customers
- Empowerment of employees to impact the customer experience
- Putting the customer at the heart of every business decision
The foundation for every successful customer-centric organization is a corresponding transformation to employee-centricity.
An employee-centric organization is built on a culture where innovation, creativity and empowerment are encouraged throughout the organization, regardless of the level of the employee.
In an employee-centric organization, employees are strongly connected to customers, prospects, peers and leadership. Employees in this environment are encouraged to:
- Help customers in any way needed
- Challenge internal processes that may be impacting productivity
- Promote “out of the box” solutions when situations arise
Employees feel respected, engaged and believe they have an opportunity to grow.
Fundamental to any employee-centric organization is full empowerment of employees, regardless of position within the corporate hierarchy. We’ve all been in situations where something goes wrong, we want the business to hear our concerns and “make it right.”
We all know the stomach tightening we get when the unempowered employee responds by saying, “Sorry, I can’t help you, I will need to find my supervisor.”
When we get an empowered employee who immediately responds and corrects the situation, however, our loyalty is strengthened, we want to spread positive word-of-mouth about the situation and we look to expand our business with that organization.
That scenario represents a customer-centric organization and it all starts with a foundation of employee-centricity.
As your organization is building its customer-centric strategy to effectively grow in 2021 and beyond, you must recognize that a critical component of success will be implementation of an employee-centric strategy as well.
The following cultural and technical issues will require focus:
Employee-focused Leadership — This area is one of the most important changes in implementation of employee-centricity. Leaders at all levels must actively listen to employees and focus on asking questions rather than simply giving answers.
This change encourages employees to become more engaged and involved.
Build Processes Based on Understanding Employee Needs and Expectations — Many times internal human resources process have been in place for several years and are not adjusted to interact with employees in the ways that they like to communicate.
More honest, representative input will be received when the processes are built around the employees.
Encourage Participation and Share Performance Metrics — Engage employees in product roadmap ideas, customer interactions, content creation and more. Additionally, share key metrics with the entire team and regularly let them know how their individual role and contributions impact those metrics.
Don’t hesitate to share times when metrics are not at desired levels and ask for input and solutions when that occurs.
Continuously Enhance Employee Experience Through Feedback — Companies often do an annual “climate survey” which is great, however, it is not even close to being enough feedback.
Many organizations use Net Promoter Score surveys to regularly do a quick check on employee engagement and experience. Building a culture where employees know they are free to provide feedback will foster employee-centricity.
During 2021 the workplace will continue to go through a spectrum of changes. Some of us will be back in the office while others will continue to work remotely. The one constant is that we want our customers to be at the heart of every decision we make. Building an employee-centric foundation will be one of the most important steps toward achieving that goal.