At ENGAGE, our focus is usually on our clients: how we can help them drive engagement and leadership to fulfil their unique business goals, deliver better experiences and boost the bottom line. But we see the effects of engagement in our everyday lives – and I recently had my own, first-hand experience of the direct impact that employee engagement has on the customer.
The scenario was simple enough. I took the day off work to wait for a locksmith from a well-known organisation (we shall spare names – for now). I was promised a visit between 9am and 12 noon, but no visit was made and no call was received to explain why. I contacted head office but was brushed off and simply given the locksmith’s mobile number with the instruction to call him myself and find out what the delay was.
First customer experience negative: not only was the service I was promised not delivered, but it was then made my problem!
With little other option, I called the locksmith and left voicemails four times during afternoon. He never picked up the phone and never called me back. Ignoring your customer? Another obvious experience no-no.
The story continues with me calling head office once more to find out there was no knowledge about the fact the locksmith didn’t turn up or why he may have been delayed. I was offered an emergency locksmith but was told this would cost more and I would have to wait until he was free.
In my frustration, I turned to social media to complain to the CEO directly. A locksmith finally arrived at 9.30pm. He was able to repair the lock but was forced to give us the service for free, despite being on a higher call-out rate. In addition to creating an incredibly poor experience for me as a customer, this makes no business sense to the organisation either!
In stark contrast, another similarly large and widely-known firm came to do some maintenance work at my house. The employee who arrived could not have delivered a better service – he arrived bang on the time promised; he was polite, courteous and engaging; he tidied as he went, and even connected with the cat!
Throughout this experience, the employee demonstrated his clear empathy with me, the customer, recognising that I wanted a number of things to be fixed in a single day with minimum disruption to my time. He got on with the job as briefed and even went to buy some additional fittings for us to save us a trip later.
Most pertinently, though, he talked positively about his employer, despite having worked there a matter of months. As well as taking pride in his own work, the employee took pride in the business he represented.
Could there be a simpler demonstration of the effects of employee engagement – or lack thereof?
While the first organisation had no apparent connection between employer and employee, and a clear lack of communication across the business, the second organisation demonstrated the exact opposite. The employee was clearly engaged with the business, was able to fulfil the values of that business and was clearly briefed about me as the customer.
As a direct result, the service from the first organisation was not only poor, but also disjointed and even offensive. Not only will I not use them again, but I’ve also publicly complained about them and shared my woeful story on social media for all to see. As well as risking their reputation, they’re risking loss of custom and loss of long-term revenue.
Conversely, I’d go back to the second organisation time and time again, as well as recommending them to friends and family.
We all know that better customer service means advocacy and repeat sales, and that employees play a huge role here. Seeing an organisation getting it right is incredibly satisfying. Seeing another getting it wrong is so disappointing and seems such an unnecessary risk with today’s discerning customers.
And while I may only be one customer with one story, I suspect my experience resonates with thousands of customers everywhere – and that’s a lot of revenue to be risking.
By Dr Andy Brown
CEO & ENGAGE Leadership Practice Head