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Customer engagement is all about deepening your relationship with your current customers and establishing new, high-value customer relationships.

Remember the Carnival cruise ship Triumph? If I were a crew member, I’d probably also flip out, though the crew of the Carnival Triumph has been praised in the media and by guests, for remaining attentive, friendly, and professional.  This is not something you might expect from a massively diverse group of underpaid and standard overworked employees. How did it happen? It happened because the crew was engaged and understood the Disney mission.

An often-cited Gallup study from 2011 showed that only 30 percent of U.S. workers employed full- or part-time are engaged in their work and workplace, while approximately half is not engaged. Nearly one in five was actively disengaged. What does this really mean?

Your salespeople are on overdrive and not really engaged with their customers. How do you know? They don’t ask for emails, send customers thank-you notes,  or follow through with customers who don’t buy.  If you have a type of loyalty program, they don’t take the time to explain it to the customer or don’t know how it works. Remember 85% of your business comes from referrals so everyone in your store is important. Referrals don’t just come from past buyers. They come from anyone who has been in your store and had a great experience. How many times have you been in a store, unhappy about the salesperson and then tell your friends, “Don’t go there.”

Everyone who is connected to your business is part of your brand promotion and connected to your customer’s loyalty. Often times these front line people are in the lower pay bands and may not be very happy with their jobs. Their attitude is carried over to your customers. I say your customers because this group doesn’t see them as “their” customers.

In an interview with LoyaltyTruth, Paul Hebert, a lead consultant with Symbolist and an expert in the behavioral arts and employee engagement, believes it’s unrealistic to aim for fully engaged staffs, but feels stores should “begin measuring — with whatever tool you find helpful — and then start working to move the needle.”

Instead of trying to constantly “engage” employees, first you must find out why they are “disengaged.” If you’re not sure what’s going on in your store, have someone “mystery shop” the areas where customers have the most contact. Salespeople are one part, but in their case, niceness pays off. Most stores have many employees aren’t paid for being nice; they get paid for doing their job. There’s a difference.

In order to be engaged with customers, employees need to understand how it works and the payoff to the company.  If you want better engagement, here are a few things to consider.

  1. Reward employees who show make exception contributions to your customers. Things like saying “please” and “thank you, ” and offering to do something extra for the customer like carry a package to the customer’s car.
  2. Build job structures for all employees and a career ladder. Many companies consider some jobs “dead-end” in their business, so they assume people are going to quit. If they were smart, they would realize that an employee, who does their job successful and considers their job important, is a candidate for a job promotion. It’s hard to judge honest with a new employee; it’s easier if one has “shown” loyalty.
  3. 3.    Teach employees new job skills. Job skills can be taught to most people; why not teach them to people who have a good track record with you. This will improve their self-esteem and make them better at their job.

 

Helping employees understand how to engage drive’s results to your bottom line.

Lisbeth Calandrino develops training programs that teaches employees how to provide better engagement with their customers. She can be reached at 518.495.5380 or Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

 

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