No one can say, “I am a Service Manager” without having read (and maybe saved) at least one article, blog post, or LinkedIn Pulse piece about employee engagement.  (A Tweet does not count.)

The reason this topic is so important is because there is a well-established link between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. You can easily understand that if customer-facing employees are not engaged, their interactions with customers will be mechanical, dispassionate, and will not engender customer trust.  These reasons alone are good enough for me to want to make sure that my support team is highly motivated and well trained.

In addition to improving CSAT and Loyalty, there are three other reasons why engaged employees are a prerequisite to growing your business.

  1. Employees know the problems
  2. Employees know many of the solutions
  3. Employees know what customers want and need

Employees know the problems

Most organizations have a formal or informal continuous improvement process.  When you learn about a problem, you fix it.  But you can’t begin to implement improvements until the fixer hears about it.  Check out this illustration!

Even great front line workers don’t know all the problems the customers are having; however, they surely know most of them.  And, if you start with all their know problems as equaling 100%, then by the time you reach middle management (the level where people have a little time to stop and think) they only know 9% of the problems that the front line people know.  Think about this – 9% is barely 1 in 10.  For every customer problem that reaches middle management, there are nine more just waiting to bite your company in the ass!

Employees know many of the solutions

In addition to knowing your customer’s problems, the employees frequently know the solutions. They may or may not know the best solution, but they certainly know how to work around problems and give your customers genuine relief.  His or her solutions can buy you time to find and implement an elegant solution that makes everyone happy.  Their solution will keep customers calm while you do your in-depth problem solving process.

Employees know what customers want and need

As you work hard to grow your business, you soon realize that customers are buying products and services to improve their business outcomes. Who is most familiar with what your customers do and where they fall short of desired outcomes?  Right!  Front line, customer-facing employees!

Service engineers spend most of their productive time working with customers.  They know what equipment the customers have, which are useful, and which just take up space.  They see how the customers use various tools.  They know what issues are top of mind.  They know where customers are falling short of meeting their goals and in many cases they know the reasons why.

Planning new products and services

When it is time to start planning your next product or service, who do you think should be included in the initial, high-level discussions? A broad cross-section of your field engineers and telephone support agents.  If they are not sure about what the customer’s issues are, the least you can expect is for them to introduce the product planners to the customers most likely to help formulate the future.

Because these customers are now part of the solution, they are most likely to be willing to participate in beta testing and give you actionable comments for the next iteration.  They will help make your success achievable.

A handy reference