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Listen to and know your employees; it helps with customers

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When it comes to determining employee satisfaction and how well they are engaged in your business, it’s a relatively easy exercise – particularly when it comes to the world of retail and restaurants:

Just ask your customers.

For the most part, your customers feel the effect of your processes, management style and how your employees are treated. Sure, there are employees you may have screened and ultimately hired who end up not being good at customer interaction, but for the most part those people are let go or they vote with their feet and leave.

For employees you want to retain, it’s important to not create barriers that inhibit creating positive customer interactions.

One of the first places to look is your processes. Have you created onerous procedures that are overwhelming and self-serving for one department but do nothing but frustrate your employee and, ultimately, your customer?

If you’re getting feedback from your employees about such a process – listen to them.

Most likely, any consumer has interacted with a retail employee trying to explain a procedure that makes no sense to either side of the transaction. While the employee and the customer may collude in their shared frustration, it’s the business that will take the hit.

Another place to examine is with managers and supervisors. Do you have the right people in place that can make the job as positive an experience as they can for those they lead?

It’s a given in most retail jobs that the pay is relatively low compared to many occupations, and the position may or may not include benefits.

So, what can incentivize someone to stay with you and, most importantly, be a positive influence in the customer’s experience?

Really good managers and supervisors take the time to know their people. It’s the basis of empathy or, in the current vernacular, emotional intelligence, whereby those leading others invest the time to understand those with whom they work.

We’ve heard it a million times that little things matter, but often that notion gets tossed out the window because of other matters perceived to be more pressing.

The manager/supervisor relationship with the employee is the key one for any business. The company may have great leadership at the top with powerful positive messaging coming from it, and perhaps there are great department heads.

But when the primary relationship is employee to supervisor, that’s the one that matters. When employees believe that their managers and supervisors care about them, there is strong correlation to having customers who are treated well.

It’s such a simple formula, but one that is overlooked far too many times.

Lastly, if you want to measure what’s happening with your employees, forget a lengthy traditional employee attitude instrument. They are typically too long and often don’t get data that are of much use in many environments.

Instead, try pulse surveys, which are exactly what they sound like. You take an immediate snapshot of how things are going at a certain point in time.

Limit the questions to five to seven items that can cover topics that you want to closely examine. With the right questions, you will know exactly what’s on your employee’s minds at that moment in time, and it can help you develop corrective action, if needed.

Many organizations will administer a pulse survey every month just to keep on top of issues – identifying concerns that won’t have time to grow legs and become larger problems.

Again, it’s simple. But if you treat your people well with respect and courtesy, they, in turn, are more likely to delight your customers.

Marianne Chester is founder and CEO of mEnterprise Solutions LLC, a strategic services consultancy based in Stroudsburg. She can be reached at 570-460-9599 or mchester@menterprisesolutions.com.

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