Customers are number one.
This is a statement that anybody working in any kind of sales knows best. However, with so much focus on customers, it can be easy to forget about those who make them happy. AKA, your employees.
Whether you sell clothing and accessories or computer telephony integration products, employee engagement is vital to your success. If a worker simply isn’t engaged, any dialogue with a potential customer is wasted. A buyer knows if the person they are talking to seems uninterested or unhappy. This type of interaction not only has a negative impact on the sale, but it can also have an adverse effect on that customer’s loyalty to your brand.
Of course, bad workers do exist. But bad employers also exist, and the blame can’t completely go on staff.
Perhaps they keep being put on an unfriendly work schedule. Maybe their hard work isn’t being acknowledged. Perhaps they have a lot going on at home, but they aren’t being given the flexibility to deal with it.
There’s a plethora of reasons why your workforce may not be engaged. As a good employer, it’s your job to keep the staff happy. Thus, keeping them engaged, happy, and part of an altogether more connected workforce. In turn, better position your team to provide world class customer service.
Here are some suggestions on how to keep your team highly engaged.
Stop Putting Tech Over People
Everybody loves a bit of technology.
It has introduced the use of SMS customer support. Allowed chatbots to answer questions. And given us the chance to maximize social media – saving us both time and money.
But has technology taken over a bit too much in the workplace?
Humans cannot compete with robots. Machines are faster, smarter, and have all the answers. So, where does that leave humans? Perhaps a little less engaged, fearing that they’ll soon be replaced by an advanced piece of AI.
Remember, no matter how great robots are, they are not a replacement for people. They cannot give the same warmth, upsell the same products, or connect with people the same way humans can.
While a chatbot can tell a customer when their parcel will arrive, it won’t remember a conversation they had about a film they watched. At least not yet, at any rate.
This isn’t to say that technology shouldn’t be used. Rather, it should be implemented to the benefit of both the customer and the employee. It should be integrated into the workplace so that employees want to work with it – not fear it.
For example, classes can be held to teach employees how to use beneficial tech like learning to create a SAAS SEO strategy. Take time to work with staff and figure out what works for them. Discuss their preferred learning practices, and any tech solutions they may be struggling with. That way, the training you provide will best meet their needs.
Say, you replaced your staff’s old desk phones with VoIP alternatives. They might then come to you and ask, “What are VoIP phones and how will they help with my work?”. In that case, talk them through things and show them the advantage. This is how to remove your team’s – often natural – fear of new tech. If people can’t work out how to market through social media, send them on a course that will help. This will help keep people more engaged at work and with customers.
Another way to integrate tech is to use tech for your employees in their work environment. Using workplace digital signage creates a more engaged and productive team. This way of working puts employees at the center of the workplace. In turn, creating a more positive environment and higher communication with customers.
These types of technology are great ways to praise individuals and encourage staff to do their best. And in turn, that technology enables you to further engage employees and provide a better customer experience.
Give Employees a Break
Everybody needs a break. Whether that’s throughout the day or taking a vacation. A burnt-out worker is not a productive or engaged team member. You can’t expect a person to be talking enthusiastically or selling to customers when they are physically and mentally tired.
It can be hard to figure out breaks if you run a small team. And this is where people like contingent workers or temp staff often come in. These are all people who work for a company on a non-permanent basis but are able to provide relief or extra work when needed.
Hiring such temp staff, though, is a double-edged sword. It can be convenient, but isn’t always the best way to maintain a consistent customer experience. For many firms, using flexible scheduling so that your existing staff can cover gaps is a better idea.
Giving people a break empowers them to come back with a fresh mind, ready to get on with work at full speed. It also means less sick days and less turnover, as people will be happy and want to stay with a company that treats them well. Saving the business money in the long run.
Don’t forget to check in with employees, too. Have a light-hearted meeting with them to see how they are getting on with things. Check if there is anything they need help with and do what you can to assist them. This goes for anything from their mental health to a new gadget you may have introduced to make their jobs easier.
Stick to Your Word
One thing that attracts people to certain jobs is the prospect of a fantastic work culture and great benefits. Employers constantly post jobs with the promise of early Friday finishes, daily doughnuts, and regular breaks to take advantage of the ping pong table. Many also mention personal benefits like sick pay or yearly salary rise.
It’s important to offer these work allowances to make people want to work for you. It’s equally critical that you make sure that you can fulfil these promises.
Don’t offer benefits if you can’t follow through on them. Giving people false promises will lead to obvious disappointment. But more importantly, it also stops your staff from being engaged at work.
So, if you have made a deal with your staff, fulfil your promise. For example, let’s say you tell an employee that they can finish early on a Wednesday, but you were hit with an unexpected influx of work and need the employee to work the full day. In this case, don’t renege on your promise to the employee. At the very least, talk with your employee and see if they’d be open to postponing their partial day. In all likelihood they will be open to this arrangement, but if not, make other arrangements so that you can fulfill your promise.
Using a solution such as a RingCentral workforce management system can be incredibly helpful, making it easier to organize work, stay on task, and follow through on your commitments to your customers and your employees.
It helps you deliver on promised hours to team members and meet fluctuating customer demand. That means it has the twin benefits of aiding employee engagement and customer satisfaction.
If you are doing all you can for your customers, you need to be doing all you can for your employees too.
They are in many ways your most precious resource. Treat them with equality and respect, and your organization will reap the rewards.
Recognize that technology is great for your company, but use it with a human-centered approach, so that it benefits your staff and your customers.
Also, make sure that you are giving your workforce time off to refresh themselves. And fulfil the promises you give to them.
Giving your employees the respect they deserve will keep them happy and motivated. In turn, this will push them to do the best work they can and, ultimately, give your brand a great name.
John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, and VoIP provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as Vault and E-spirit.