Loyalty – A Two-Way Street

During my career in the customer service industry, I have often witnessed (along with being subjected to ) an imbalance in the level of value exhibited toward employees who are in turn expected to value the customers. Companies often forget that employees are humans and not robots. It is imperative for companies to strive to make their employees feel valued as that “feeling” has an immediate positive impact as it flows from the employee to the customer. It’s important to involve employees when setting performance standards, operational goals and developing improvement projects. If an employee considers their workload to be unrealistic and hampers their efforts to meet their performance goals, the internal/external customer is impacted via the employee’s hurried behavior, heightened frustration level and unwillingness to go the extra mile. Develop performance standards based on quality – not solely on quantity. This method incents the employee to give their full effort to the customer.  Quality over quantity also promotes doing the job right the first time with an eye on reducing the necessity for rework.

Employees have the answers to most issues within a company. Create an environment where they feel safe in voicing their concerns or submitting ideas for improvement. Remove fear from the workplace as this “evil” will only cause stagnation throughout the enterprise.  Just as customers will discontinue their relationship with your business without bothering to tell you why, employees will leave if their need to feel valued is not met. Don’t use the old cliché of ” The job market is pretty tough right now. You should be glad you have a job.” as a tool to mistreat or ignore your employees. They already know times are tough! Let your employees know you appreciate their efforts during the tough times. Utilize all of the brainpower available to make sure you survive during the tough times. When employees feel valued, they will naturally provide great service to each other and to the external customer.

I have witnessed first hand the power of valuing employees.  While working as an operations analyst for a major telecommunications company, I was tasked with seeking out areas of the business as candidates for process improvement projects.  My first action was to always just spend time with the employees as they performed the tasks for a full day without asking any questions. The next step was to get them involved by asking them to help me develop a flow chart of the process. The next step was to get all involved in the process in the same room so that they could all see the flowchart and identify areas of opportunity. A redesign of the process resulted in a more efficient process for all including the external customer.  Their pride of ownership was easily detectable through their voice tones and body language when the new process was fully implemented. The customer ultimately benefited from this feeling of ” I had a part in this – my opinion matters.”

Remember to honor your employees as people in the same manner that you advise them to honor your customer. Just as you would survey  your customers (you are surveying your customers – right??)  for their opinion regarding your product/service, do the same for your employees regarding their work environment. How do they feel about their performance standards? What are their concerns regarding the work environment.? Just as you would seriously consider your customers feedback for product/service improvements , do the same with feedback from your employees. Implement ideas and suggestions to show employees you value their input. Reward employees for input that results in greater efficiency or cost savings. Take the time to properly train your employees as this instills confidence and directly impacts the level of service received by both internal and external customers. Managers should spend time servicing the customer in order to get the employee’s perspective on providing service to internal/external customers.  Loyalty must be created inside of the company before it can flow out to the customer. Internal loyalty to employees leads to external customer loyalty.  Internal loyalty to employees leads to employee retention which leads to external customer retention. Employee retention creates a higher level of service delivery as the internal/external customer receives the benefit of a more experienced service provider.

Before expecting employees to deliver great service in order to create loyal customers, create loyal employees by valuing them as capable, intelligent and industrious human beings. Your business will benefit when your employees believe that you care about them.

12 thoughts on “Loyalty – A Two-Way Street”

  1. Great insight to people development and empowerment. More and more managers must adopt this style of leadership. Customers do appreciate on time delivery from qualified teams (and feeling like part of it). Nice work voicing this.

  2. Managers must foster an environment of mutual respect and trust. I have been guilty of ignoring the excellent performance of employees while and focusing on their mistakes. I have used the excuse that I’m merely aligning the employee’s performance with organizational expectations. I’m not punishing, merely correcting… it’s not personal. It is personal. Truly soliciting employee input, involvement and buy-in can be frustrating, and many of us are not adept at it. Collaboration can be very difficult in the beginning. Employees rightly suspect management’s motives and even look for the “hidden agenda.” They may believe that their input isn’t really wanted, even if it is desperately needed. They may also imagine that any changes made will be temporary at best. Just the latest in a series of improvement initiatives… everyone can begin ignoring it in a month or two.

    If management really values its employees, really wants their input and assistance in improving what they do and how they do it, those employees will usually respond very positively to the “new reality.”

    Errol, I appreciate your valuable discussion of how you worked with employees to identify, not just problems, but the solutions needed to correct those problems. Sometimes we forget that improving metrics, better KPI’s, and higher ROI are the result of the environment that is created and nutured, not the cause.

    1. Jim,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article and for your comments. I truly believe the time spent creating loyal employees is well worth the effort when considering the long term results. If I can be of assistance to you, feel free to contact me via email at errol@errolallenconsulting.com or via phone at 1-800-830-4167.

  3. Great article – but an even greater shame that most managers will not take any notice. I have always thought that any employment contract is a two way thing and that a happy , valued employee is a tremendous asset to any organisation, and especially when you are dealing with customers – it comes across to thre customer and the employee does a better job. Too much is placed on KPI’s etc and not enough on the working environment – to me its obvious; valued employees = more efficiency.

    1. Thanks Steve for taking the time to read the article and your comments. I feel that any company that places more emphasis on the numbers (KPI, etc) than on the work environment is in danger in the long run.

  4. Great article that has extreme relevance in my company right now. As someone who has been in CS since I was 18 years old, I understand employee morale needs to be high. I’ve always said that my company may be the one handing me my paycheck, but I work for the customer. I enjoy the feeling of a customer’s loyalty. I also enjoy feeling empowered and valued by my employer. I truly believe that CSRs keep your customers coming back and every employer should treat them with integrity and value. Ask them for feedback, create an enjoyable and comfortable working environment, provide positive feedback as often as you can, etc. This is a great article that I plan on printing out and hanging on my wall. Thanks!

  5. my last boss said ‘i trust that person, but i don’t trust that person’. i was perplexed, he had forgotten that to get trust you need to first give it, as with respect and loyalty. needless to say he spent most of his time looking behind instead of forward. a loyal heart nurtures loyal followers.

  6. This article is truly indicative of what is happening across many organizations. We have to educate policy makers about the benefits of involving their front line employees to manage effective change. It creates an incredible environment and the staff owns the process with pride and the change that ensues is met with little or no resistance. It’s a win-win situation!

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