When the topic of employee satisfaction and engagement arises, it is often difficult to differentiate the two. If I were to ask, you might say, “a satisfied employee IS an engaged employee.” Or maybe he isn’t? The difference, while subtle, is an important distinction, especially when considering the success or failure of a company. Colin Shaw, the CEO of Beyond Philosophy hit this nail right on the head in his LinkedIn article, where he connects employee loyalty with customer loyalty.
Shaw describes a satisfied employee as one who is relatively happy about their day-to-day job: the work, pay, benefits, possibilities for growth, promotions and more… They come to work, they do their job well, and they go home. Although these employees are consistently supportive of your business, they likely won’t go beyond the call of duty.
An engaged employee, however, is one who is truly passionate about the work they do. They actively seek ways to contribute to the greater benefit of the organization and its goals, exceeding what is expected of them. What’s most important, however, is that these employees have the greatest potential to affect the customer experience.
Regardless of their technical job title, these employees are your business development team, your content production team, your executives, and your customer’s best friends, all rolled into one.
These “employee ambassadors,” as Shaw calls them, will likely have three key traits:
- Commitment to company – Commitment to, and being positive about, the company (through personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and an expression of pride), and to being a contributing, loyal, and fully aligned, member of the culture
- Commitment to value proposition – Commitment to, and alignment with, the mission and goals of the company, as expressed through perceived excellence (benefits and solutions) provided by products and/or services
- Commitment to customers – Commitment to understanding customer needs, and to performing in a manner which provides customers with optimal experiences and relationships, as well as delivering the highest level of product and/or service value
In his webinar, Mark Lowenstien, another Beyond Philosophy employee, discussed the concept of employee ambassadorship. He points out that research conducted over the past two decades has been littered with studies that examine factors of employee value. They address reward and recognition, job fit, career opportunities, work environment, and departmental and management relationships. But something is missing from all of this literature, and that is the commitment to customers.
Oftentimes, companies will emphasize things like brand image and outlook in employee training. But just because those employees have a solid understanding of the brand does not mean they will deliver on the product or service promise you’ve made to customers. Brand image needs to be complimented by a culture focused on true customer experience. That brand promise has to be experienced by customers every time they interact with the company.
Consider how frequently your customers interact with your employees. Whether it is through a computer screen in a customer service chat, on the telephone, or in person, your employee should be an enthusiastic and enthralling representative for your brand. If employee satisfaction and employee engagement are not designed to meet this critical objective of the customer experience, you will probably notice a lack of customer loyalty.
On the other hand, encouraging employees to think of themselves as ambassadors of your brand will allow their engaging attitudes to reflect in interactions with customers.
So where do you see employee engagement with your brand? Are they exuberant with engagement, or do they struggle to represent your brand’s promise? Supporting employee engagement can add incredible value to your customer experience and loyalty to your brand.