If you’re a leader, it’s tempting to want to focus your efforts on profit margins and business processes, which are obviously important for any business. However, I believe if you focus on recognizing your employees, removing obstacles that get in the way of their service, and creating an exceptional experience for them, that these things will come as a result.
Remove Obstacles in the Way of Superior Service
We live in an experience economy, where customer and employee experiences are so important in shaping their motivation, buying habits, and loyalty. As a leader, your primary function is to enable your employees to achieve a desired customer service experience and exceed customer expectations.
One of the key factors in achieving this is to remove obstacles and barriers in the way of your employee’s service performance. This could include removing outdated rules/policies, unbalanced performance measurements, lack of resources, inadequate learning and development, influences of compensation, and other areas that would inhibit their superior performance.
Improve Internal Service Cooperation
Once you have evaluated your workplace culture and removed obstacles in the way of service, you want to focus on improving your internal service cooperation.
Here are a few ways you can look at improving your internal service cooperation to make your employees more productive, motivated, happy and prepared to serve their customers:
Stay positive and polite. Nobody wants to work with someone who brings down the team, and customers especially do not want to spend their time and money to interact with someone who is negative. When you are positive and polite with your colleagues, they will be more responsive and efficient, which results in better service for your external customers.
Honor your commitments with both your colleagues and customers.
Communicate transparently about any obstacles you encounter that might delay your service. If you communicate honestly and transparently you will set their expectations and be able to over deliver on your promises!
Step out of your silo and learn about the organization and service workflow. This will help you to discover how your output can be a better input for your colleagues and customers.
Be helpful by directly or indirectly supporting a customer or co-worker. It’s easy to play the “It’s not my job” game, but when you have a servant attitude that puts your colleagues and customers first you will find much more joy in your service interactions.
Recognize and Celebrate their Service
Once you have removed obstacles and improved your service cooperation, you want to recognize and reward those employees who are doing exceptional work.
The best organizations catch people doing things right and recognize and reward them for it. Celebrate great business outcomes and recognize employees who create value for customers and others will follow suit.
An employee recognition program can also be very effective at supporting this employee focused proposition. When you recognize exceptional internal service cooperation with both monetary and non-monetary rewards through a formal recognition program, your talent is much more likely to invest their energy and motivation in the form of exceptional service, leading to better profit margins and business processes (full circle moment!!).
If you’d like to learn more about implementing a total recognition program in your organization focused on your employees, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a 15-minute window in my calendar here.
How much will it cost?
The cost of a recognition program will surely range across companies, their offerings and service. Typically, the price will vary depending on how many users of the program. However, one thing to keep in mind when you are evaluating a recognition program is whether the vendor employs Embedded Margin pricing or Software as a Service.
Embedded Margin vs. Software as a Service
From our experience on both sides of these models, typically it is most cost effective as well as most transparent for your employees to go with a Software as a Service vendor. In a software as a service relationship, you will typically pay a subscription fee per user of the program versus marking up the products to pay for the costs of the program.
Benefits of the SaaS Model
In a SaaS model, rewards should be delivered at cost with no mark up. This means your talent not only gets the maximum value, but they also get the maximum selection for what they can redeem, further enhancing engagement for your global recognition efforts. Embedded margin providers don’t do that – they mark up their items. It’s also important to ask about any set up, customization or implementation fees (at GES we do not charge any of these fees).
Other additional costs to consider are what your vendor support and staffing will look like. For example, at GES our SaaS costs include a concierge service team who handle every program detail to ensure hassle-free service for your employees. This includes supporting employees interacting with the system and helping program administrators managing the recognition program.
These are just a few questions and service features to keep in mind when evaluating your recognition service provider.
How will we measure results?
Results of a recognition program can be measured in various ways both qualitatively and quantitatively. Some of the ways you can measure the results of your recognition program include: increased employee engagement levels, productivity, loyalty and ambassadorship to the company, net promoter scores, health and wellness of your employees (including absenteeism and sick days), increased customer experience and customer retention, and last but not least, increased profits!
Your recognition provider should be able to track whatever metrics you want, such as performance, service, sales and behaviours. For example, GES’s recognition portal’s real-time reporting tracks every transaction that occurs in the system and all data can be pulled to determine engagement levels and use.
You may also want to be able to survey your employees internally in the program so you can pull some qualitative data about their experience with the program and their levels of engagement.
Year over year data should be compared to show the overall ROI of the recognition program. You should be able to see positive gains in productivity, efficiency, wellness, etc., that can be translated into a dollar value for your program.
How will it improve our organizational processes, profit, productivity, etc.?
An engaged employee is a more productive employee. An employee recognition program will help increase your internal service cooperation, which translates into better customer service, thus helping improve your top or bottom line. A good recognition program reduces the complexity of your overall employee engagement strategy, by allowing you to drive 6 or 7 programs under one umbrella and one budget (for example, safety, wellness, on the spot recognition, recognition campaigns, service anniversary, etc.).
The Stats to Back it Up
According to a recent report by OfficeVibe, “disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually,” (OfficeVibe, 2017). In their roundup of employee engagement stats, they make a very compelling case for the profitability of engaging your employees:
- Highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
- Highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.
- Highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales.
- Companies with engaged employees, outperform those without by 202%.
- Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged.
Engage All Your Stakeholders
An effective recognition program will engage all stakeholders in your organization including leaders, employees, sales partners, and your customers.
Leaders – It will allow your leaders to build an emotional connection with your employees, increase their own engagement levels (as well as others), attract and retain the best employees for your company, and provide skills that will make your employees more valuable.
Employees – An effective recognition program should put your employees at the centre of the program – allowing them to have a personalized experience where they can choose how they are rewarded (for example, with GES’s program employees can choose the rewards they want from our global online gallery). You want to be able to have comprehensive reporting to track awarded points and redemption rates, which will help you understand what motivates your team so you can continue to encourage and reward those positive behaviours. A good recognition program will also take advantage of non-monetary forms of recognition, such as peer-to-peer nominations, social news feeds and fun gamification elements.
Sales Partners – You can use an effective recognition program to motivate your sales people to achieve their goals, including maximizing cross-selling opportunities and increase lead referrals. You can use a recognition program to create friendly competition with built-in leaderboards, which also give high-performing sales teams’ recognition with their peers. These types of recognition programs help to reinforce positive desired behaviors among your sales staff and encourage higher achievement levels.
Customers – You can even integrate a great employee recognition program with your customer recognition program. A customer recognition program should provide tools to influence, motivate and engage your customers to create sustained loyalty. Like your employee program, a points-based system should allow customers to choose their own rewards. You can also use it as a tool to conduct surveys to gather new information and influence change in your customer’s behaviors and buying habits.
Why should we buy from this vendor?
Selecting the right recognition provider can be overwhelming and tricky. On top of evaluating all the features, capabilities, etc. one thing that is critical to pay attention to is that they do what they say they will do. Trust your gut when you’re connecting with them. Do they follow up on time? Do they provide you with the materials or information you asked for in a timely manner?
It’s also important to be able to get recommendations from their current and/or past customers. They should be able to provide you with several contacts that you can connect with directly to ask about their experience.
Ask organizations if they have any customer case studies or results that you are able to review to see their proven track record.
You can check out some of GES’s customer results we have achieved with our 400,000+ customers, achieving billions in engagement ROI.
What are the capabilities of the program?
You want to find a recognition program that is completely customizable for your business goals and objectives. It should reflect the distinct voice for your brand and unite everyone in your organization when it comes to the company’s culture, mission, vision and values.
When evaluating a recognition provider, some of the program features you might be interested and should ask about include:
- Peer to Peer Recognition
- Manager to Employee Recognition
- Spot Cards
- Social Recognition
- Budget Manager
- Birthday Awards
- Service Anniversary
Depending on the needs of your organization and whether you are a global company, you might also want/need global functionality. Some things to consider include:
Are the rewards culturally relevant?
Can the program be offered in multiple languages? (For example, GES’s global recognition programs are available in 16+ languages including Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and growing!)
Are the rewards sourced and fulfilled in country or will you have to pay shipping, taxes and tariffs on the rewards? Keep in mind this might eat into your recognition budget. (GES’s global rewards are fulfilled in country in 170 countries across the world).
In this age of technology, mobile capability is critical to have for your recognition program. Not only does it allow for leaders and peers to recognize in the moment, but it also assures that the participants have the same user experience no matter where or how they login to the site. Our research has shown that companies who recognize their talent day-to-day and in-the-moment have much higher levels versus those who only recognize at certain milestones or tenure events.
If you’d like any further information on how to evaluate a recognition program, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or you can request a demo of our solutions here.
Each and every person in your organization has an impact on your customer experience and therefore your bottom line. Even those employees who don’t work on the front lines directly with your customers are serving your employees internally and providing them with the means necessary to perform their job.
“Customers don’t interact with an organization. They interact with you and your co-workers. It is that experience whether they buy or not, whether they become loyal customers or a lost opportunity.” – Peter Psichogios
Your Customer Service if Only as Great as Your Internal Service
It takes great internal service cooperation to provide seamless, flexible, hassle-free customer service. Whatever is happening on the inside of a company can be felt on the outside by the customers. If your talent is not fast, flexible and hassle-free with each other, how can they behave differently for your customers?
There are many ways that your internal employees might help serve your front-line employees to improve the customer experience. Leaders can serve your customers by providing front-line employees with the training, skills and competencies needed to do their best work. They can also remove obstacles that get in the way of providing the best experience to your customers.
Other internal colleagues might be involved in supporting those front-line workers with administrative work, stocking products, accounting and many other tasks that all contribute to a smooth customer experience. Read more about why if Your Internal Sucks, Your External Experience is Doomed.
Earning Customer Loyalty
Earning your customers’ loyalty starts with creating exceptional customer experiences at every touch point. The first step is having great internal service cooperation, and providing your employees with learning and development to enable them to better serve your customers as discussed above.
Earning customer loyalty is simple, but it’s not always easy. It takes dedication from your leaders, continuous effort from employees, and a commitment from your organization to align your organization on all levels.
Here are a few simple things you can do to earn your customer’s loyalty:
- · Personalize your interactions and treat each customer uniquely as they want to be treated.
- · Be authentic with every customer.
- · Be friendly!
- · Communicate clearly and effectively to set realistic expectations.
- · Exceed customer expectations every time. Always go the extra mile for your customers!
- · Honor your commitments. Follow through and do what you say you will.
- · Provide them with fast, hassle-free service.
- · Reward them with incentives to return and recommend!
It takes commitment and focus to understand that each interaction with your customers is an opportunity to create delight. But when you create exceptional experiences at every touch point, you will earn decades of loyalty.
Gone are the days where leaders can rule with an iron fist and expect their employee to respond with their loyalty and productivity. Talent nowadays feel a lot less like they owe their organizations something, when they don’t get something in return. Talent want to feel empowered and enabled to do a good job to the best of their ability. They want to feel like they have the skills and competencies to help their colleagues and customers.
Leave Your Ego at the Door
What would it look like in your organization if your leaders were egoless? Think about it, if you’re a leader who leaves their ego at the door, you’re going to have a more pleasant, less confrontational work environment. You’re going to have better, more open communication because your talent won’t be afraid to tell you about problems that get in the way of their service. You’re going to have more employee engagement because they want to serve a leader who cares about them and not just him/herself.
There are many reason why being an egoless leader will have benefits for your organization and it’s bottom line including, increased productivity, better safety, improved morale, and improved word of mouth from both your employees and customers.
How to Serve Your Way to Success
If you are truly committed to leaving your ego at the door and serving your way to success in business, there are some helpful things that will help you to get there:
Focus on your employees needs and wants. Get to know your people beyond the job they do and find out what motivates them. Do they want opportunities to learn and grow in a certain position? Provide them with development and they will be more engaged, energized and committed to your company’s success.
Recognize your employees for a job well done. This is not a one size fits all approach, and you absolutely cannot pollute the winner’s circle with losers. But recognize each individual employee for their personal contribution to your company’s success. When you do so, others will see these behaviors being recognized and will follow suit. Plus, it reinforces a positive, reward driven work environment where your employees will be acknowledged for doing good work.
Provide one-on-one coaching to see employees excel. If you give your employees personalized feedback and direction, you will be able to play upon their strengths and improve their weaknesses. It’s important to communicate openly and effectively with them so that they know what your expectations are and how they can meet and exceed them.
These are just a few ways that being an egoless leader will help you serve your way to success.
- Do you have any examples of an egoless leader in your organization? How are their interactions with employees different than other leaders?
- What are some ways that you have seen improvement in your employees by being an egoless leader?
- Do you have any guidelines you follow for being an egoless leader? Please share in the comments below!
If you’re a leader and you want to improve your employee and customer experience drastically, you should you experience your experience. What I mean by this is, you should experience working on the front lines with your employees. When you do this you not only talk the talk, but you walk the walk. When you lead from the front lines and are on the ground walking around with your employees you will be able to see first-hand what the experience is like for your front-line employees. This will allow you to then address problems and obstacles in the way of your internal service cooperation, which will in turn improve your external experience for your customers! This is a great example of what it is to be a servant leader (Read more about how to be a Servant Leader here).
Lead from the Front Lines
If you experience working on the front lines with your employees, you will build rapport, earn their trust, and receive their discretionary energy and engagement. Being a servant leader and getting in the trenches with them shows that you are dedicated to making their workplace the best environment possible, which will make them want to stay longer, work harder, and have positive things to say about your organization.
What Would Elon Do?
You may have recently read the statement issued by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, whereby he addresses safety concerns for the Tesla front line after reports came out that injuries were about 30% higher than the industry average.
“No words can express how much I care about your safety and wellbeing. It breaks my heart when someone is injured building cars and trying their best to make Tesla successful.
Going forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception. I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet every injured person as soon as they are well, so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform.
This is what all managers at Tesla should do as a matter of course. At Tesla, we lead from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower. Managers must always put their team’s safety above their own.” (Electrek June 2 2017)
This email is a great example of a servant leader who is dedicated to making the workplace a safe and positive environment for his employees. It is not enough for your product to be exceptional, your experience needs to be exceptional as well. The customer experience starts from the inside out with your employees.
What do you think about Elon’s email above?
Do you have any examples of problems you have solved by experiencing your experience and working the front lines?
Share your experiences of servant leadership in the comments below!
You spend 2000+ hours at work every year, that’s 23% of your time, 3 full months or ¼ of a year! Whichever way you look at it, you spend a lot of your life ‘working’, so you might as well enjoy your experience! Most people would rather be great than ordinary. It is your job as a leader to develop your employees and engage them so that they will give you their discretionary energy and create exceptional experiences for their internal colleagues and your external customers.
Here are some of our top featured blogs to help you develop and engage your employees. Click below to read more!
A Guide to Being a Servant Leader
Don’t Be A Bosshole
Get Your People Geeked About Learning
Is Your Learning Program Like Drinking Through A Firehose?
Take Your Engagement Program from Meh to Hell Yah!
How To Get Your Customers To Love You
I hope these blogs are helpful for you to develop and engage your employees and yourself so that you will be energized, enabled and motivated to create exceptional experiences that make your customers stay longer, buy more, and positively refer others!
Follow these links to learn more about how to implement at Engagement or Learning program in your organization.
The most successful leaders focus on developing their team and enabling their people to be great. This means giving your employees learning and development opportunities and removing obstacles that get in the way of them providing great service for their colleagues and customers.
When you become a servant leader and focus on removing obstacles and developing your team to be extraordinary, your employees will give you their discretionary energy, motivation and engagement, which translates into better service both internally and externally.
Servant leaders believe that their talent would rather be awesome than ordinary. They understand that their primary role is to help their team excel with their customers, and that they won’t get there by micromanaging or being a bosshole. Read more about How to Identify a Bosshole here.
Here are a few guidelines you can follow to become a Servant Leader:
1.Focus on developing your employees. Give your employees opportunities to learn and grow within your organization. This will give them skills and competencies to excel with their colleagues and customers. It will also show them that you believe in them and their future at the organization, which will motivate them to give you their energy in return.
2.Recognize and reward your employees. When you recognize your employees for a job well done, it reinforces a culture of appreciation. Other employees will see their peers being recognized and will strive to do better to meet and exceed the expectations of their leaders and colleagues.
3.Provide direction and guidance. It is important that you provide clear guidelines, expectations and direction for your employees so they know what is expected of them. When they struggle with a project, be sure to give them opportunities to learn and improve by offering a helping hand, advice and guidance in how to best execute the task.
4.Get to know employees beyond the job. When you get to know your beyond just their role in your organization, you will know what motivates them to excel, and you will be able to better personalize their experience and the recognition you give them for a job well done.
5.Be flexible with policies. Give employees the opportunity to make good decisions within the scope of your company values. It’s good to examine policies and procedures that are outdated and unnecessary. For example, is a strict dress code holding your organization back from having a more casual culture? Could you offer flex time or work from home accommodations for employees who care for children or aging parents?
6.Communicate openly and effectively with your employees. When you make communication a priority in your organization your employees will feel valued and feel like their voice is being heard. When you let them know what is going on in the organization they will be more dedicated to its future growth.
Servant leaders experience much higher levels of engagement and energy from their employees. Plus, they are twice as likely to stay with an organization when they feel their leaders develop and recognize them.
You know the old adage, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink? Well the same goes for your employees and their growth and development.
As a senior leader, it is your job to provide opportunities for your employees to learn and grow, and to make their learning accessible, actionable and accountable. However, if your employee is not engaged by your company and culture, then you can’t force them to learn and grow. Read more about how to engage your employees with Servant Leadership.
Here are a couple things you can ask yourself and examine to have better engagement in your organization:
- Did it start with your hiring practices? I think today, more than ever, it is critical to hire employees for their interpersonal skills over their technical ones. As long as they have basic abilities, many technical skills can be trained. However, many interpersonal skills such as friendliness, fun, and authenticity cannot be trained, they are often ingrained in the person from an early age and they’ve either got it or they don’t. Perhaps this person is just not a good cultural fit for your organization.
- Are they not engaged by your organization’s culture? This is where you can step in and re-examine your culture and how you can enhance it to make a better overall experience for your employees. This might include offering better benefits, examining outdated policies and procedures (e.g. strict dress codes, flex time, and vacation policies) and whether they feel recognized and valued in your organization.
- Are you recognizing and rewarding them for their exceptional performance? If your employees were consistently providing exceptional performance but you did not recognize them for it, why would they even try to grow and give you their discretionary energy and motivation. You can enhance this experience for your employees with both formal and informal rewards and recognition. The best organizations recognize their employees at every touch point. Non-monetary recognition is also a big motivator for employees, and can include acknowledging an employee at a team meeting in front of their peers, sending them a personalized thank you email or sending them a formal award certificate for going above and beyond their duties. You can also recognize them with monetary rewards such as spot cards, bonuses, incentives, and points in their employee performance portal that they can redeem for merchandise and gift cards.
There is a critical overlap between employee engagement and learning development. When your talent are engaged with recognition and enabled with skills and competencies from learning, they will be able to provide better service internally with their colleagues and externally with your customers, which will result in customers (and employees) who stay longer, buy more and positively refer others. Watch this quick video below for more information on the Intersection of Employee Engagement and Learning.
Companies are continuously offering surface level forms of employee engagement to attract and motivate their employees. The problem is, that their effort is half assed. Organizations feel the obligation to do something for their employees, but their intentions are not heartfelt.
In order to not suck at engagement your intentions must align with your actions. Leaders who have the mentality of service and being a servant to their employees are the ones who will often find the most success with employee engagement (and also profitability). Read more about the benefits of Servant Leadership here.
When it comes to engagement, intention is so important. Your senior leaders must have good intentions and care about their employees in order to have engagement that is effective and creates significant change. They must care about the betterment of their employees and creating an environment that they can continuously learn and grow in. Plus when you invest in your employee’s development with learning and growth opportunities this shows them that your care about their future at the company and are willing to invest in their future.
Part of this positive engagement isn’t using and abusing employees and pushing them to the brink of exhaustion. It’s checking in and making sure that your employees have a good work/life balance and manageable workload.
Unfortunately many organizations and our society in general often focuses on measuring success by putting in long hours, working to the bone and making tons of profit. But I can assure you that if profits are what you’re after, a lack of positive intention and engagement in your organization will tank your potential profits.
When you have good intentions with your engagement program it creates a trickle down effect. The senior leaders role is to motivate and support their talent, their engaged employees will be happier, more productive and provide better service internally with colleagues and externally with customers, and your customers will stay longer, buy more and positively refer others based on their exceptional experiences with your organization. Makes sense, right?
For more information about how to create this kind of meaningful engagement in your organization, get in touch for a complimentary consultation.
Employees are drawn to your company because of the perks, culture and reputation, but they will stay because of the leadership.
The most successful leaders understand that their primary role is to enable their people to be great. This means developing your people and removing obstacles for them to serve customers in a fast, friendly, hassle-free way. Watch this quick video about how to become a Chief Obstacle Remover.
I have worked with leaders to help them become more effective for the past 30 years in over 70 countries and 16 languages. What I have learned through these experiences is that the world is filled with two types of leaders.
The first type of leader is the Servant Leader. Servant Leaders, remove obstacles that get in the way of their employees doing their best work. They develop their team so they give more because they want to, and that discretionary energy is focused on delighting their customers.
These leaders assume and operate under the principle that the individuals on their work team would rather be awesome than ordinary. These leaders have figured out they cannot do everybody’s job on their team and understand that their job is to help their team excel with the customer.
The second type of leader is the Ego Based Leader. Ego Based leaders have limiting beliefs about the individuals on their team, and are constantly trying to protect and prevent those individuals from “messing up” their career.
These leaders often try to do everyone’s job, micro-manage and do not develop their team because they assume they will not be with them long anyways, or they don’t trust them to do the job the “right way.”
Check out the table below for some more characteristics of Ego Based Leaders versus Servant Leaders. This list can be useful for both job seekers and leaders to recognize the characteristics they want to associate/be associated with.
Ego Based Leaders
Focus on themselves and their career growth
Focus on developing their employees
Intimidate and threaten their employees
Recognize and reward employees
Micro-manage projects and roles
Provide direction and guidance
Are closed off and reserved with employees – business only
Get to know employees beyond the job so they can personalize their experience
Rigidly follow policies and procedures
Are flexible with policies – allow employees to make good decisions within their scope of values
Keep their employees in the dark and on a ‘need to know’ basis
Communicate openly and effectively with their employees
Are constantly dealing with customer retention
Have more satisfied customers
Have high turnover rates and are continuously losing money on re-training and hiring replacements
Have employees that stay longer and refer other top performers to the organization
Leaders must remember that if they don’t focus on serving their talent with development opportunities and ongoing recognition, they are missing the opportunity to tap into their discretionary energy. If a leader needs a bottom line reason, employees who do not feel adequately recognized are more than twice as likely to quit within the next year.
Remember, if service is beneath you, then leadership is above you!