I saw an interesting question on Twitter recently; Which comes first, you employees or your customers? I think this is an important point because so many companies are focused on better connecting with its customers, but your company also has to engage its employees in this effort. Your employees need to be involved and understand why and how you are engaging your customers. You need to give your employees ownership of the process so that they can be invested in the outcome.
A few years ago I was doing on-site training with a company’s content marketing team. We were discussing their daily workflows and as I talked to the team, it became obvious that they were getting very little feedback from management on their performance. Finally, one content manager lamented “I have no idea if what I am doing is making a difference”.
When helping companies build out brand ambassador programs, I always stress to the company that it should transfer ownership of the program to its ambassadors as much as possible. When the ambassadors have ownership, they have a vested interest in working harder to see the program be a success.
The same logic applies to your employees. They need to be given as much feedback as possible on their efforts so that they can accurately see and understand the impact that their efforts are making toward the larger goals for the program they are working on. A great example of this is how GE utilized its employees to help attract better candidates for open positions. GE’s employees were empowered to play an active role in the process and they understood the value of their contributions. Additionally, they knew that there was a clear benefit for them if they performed well, ie they would have better and more qualified employees to work alongside.
Additionally, the most employees who are invested in a program and who understand the value of that program, the more likely it is to enjoy success. Here’s another example; A few years ago I worked with a senior marketing manager and her team to put together a robust brand ambassador program for her software company. This was something that the product’s users had communicated an interest in having. The manager and team were fully engaged and saw the value in the effort. Unfortunately, the CEO wasn’t completely sold on the effort. I worked with the team to create the framework for the program, and we presented it t the CEO. The CEO, however, only wanted to use the parts of the program that he saw as immediately and directly impacting sales. This, of course, completely diluted the value of the program, as all the components needed to be in place and working together to realize maximum value. Obviously, this was very deflating to me, as well as the manager and team, who saw this as a sign that the CEO really didn’t understand or appreciate the value that the team could bring to this effort. Needless to say, the CEO’s plan to move forward with a piecemeal approach didn’t work.
When you are designing your customer engagement programs, remember to engage your employees as well. Keeping your employees engaged and aware of what’s expected of them and how their contributions are making a difference, is vital to the program’s success. Your company should do everything it can to equip your employees with all the information and feedback they need to evaluate and improve their efforts. And perhaps most important, your employees need to be able to clearly understand how their efforts are making a difference and impact in the execution of the program. We all want to know that our work is valued and appreciated. By communicating to your employees and recognizing the value they create, you are giving them the incentive to become more invested in the success of your programs. And the more invested your employees are, the more likely that they will work harder and smarter to see your programs be successful.
So engage your employees first so that you can better engage your customers.
PS: Apologies for not having a post up yesterday. I have been dealing with a cold the last few days and decided to take yesterday off and rest. I’m feeling much better today! See you tomorrow!