Half of all customers (50 percent) say they are satisfied with a given brand, but only 38 percent of customers say they are engaged with one, according to a Gallup survey. That’s because it takes a lot more to engage a customer than to satisfy one.
What engages a customer more than anything? Engaged employees. Unfortunately, Gallup found that engagement for service workers is among the lowest of any job category and has even declined as other categories have increased. This creates a red flag for companies like tree care businesses that entrust their customers to the care of service workers every day. When front-line employees are not engaged in their work, they stand little chance of engaging their customers.
Gallup found the best companies don’t leave critical moments between employees and customers to chance. During interactions with companies, customers are doing more than assessing your services; they are subconsciously forming an emotional perception of how they feel about the encounter and how the company’s employees treat them. Gallup says these perceptions dictate not only how much the customer will spend but also whether they will recommend your company to others.
Gallup experts recommend going beyond training workers to properly complete tasks by doing the following:
1. Hire for talent. Look beyond skill, education and experience to find the right blend of employees with innate customer service qualities that fit your company.
2. Build on strengths. People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs, Gallup reports. Assess your employees’ strengths and put training in place to enhance those qualities.
3. Create an engaging workplace. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of American employees are engaged in their jobs. Active disengagement is no small threat to American businesses; Gallup estimates it costs the U.S. between $450 billion and $550 billion per year.
4. Maximize teams with great managers. Gallup found that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across businesses. Unfortunately, company owners lack the natural talent to manage or they fail to choose candidates with the right talent for management jobs 82 percent of the time. This can cause damage to a company’s bottom line and performance. Great managers can help motivate employees, accelerate their development and unleash their productivity to engage the emotions of the customers they serve at every touchpoint.
5. Harness the power of the employee- customer encounter. When companies successfully engage their customers and employees, they experience a 240 percent boost in performance-related business outcomes compared to companies that have neither engaged employees nor customers.
So while you can optimize only employee engagement or customer engagement and experience some short-term growth, sustaining long-term growth means optimizing the special connection between both.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Turf Magazine.