Employee engagement versus customer engagement, which comes first? Okay, let’s rephrase it: Who comes first; “the Employee or the Customer?”
I have had the opportunity of working with great employees and customers. My experience is that both bring an incredible value to an organization’s growth. Exploring who comes first between the employee and customer is like exploring which came first, the chicken or the egg? Nobody wins such debate because while some leaders think their employees come first, others believe that customers are king.
In this post, I am going to share some insights from three business perspectives that will help you to decide.
1. Employee Engagement drives customer engagement
Employee engagement results from a workplace culture that allows employees to channel their skills in pursuit of the organization’s mission, vision, and values. The concept of employee engagement is often misunderstood. Employee engagement is not a relationship seeking concept or staff promotion. Instead, it is one that inspires employees to wake up in the morning feeling great to go to work. It is that relationship that allows employers to trust that employees have integrity, skill, and a positive attitude to make the organization great.
In world-class organizations, leaders engage with their employees in ways that make the employees feel that their opinions matter and are considered. They acknowledge well-accomplished jobs and create opportunities to support employees’ growth. Notwithstanding, there are good reasons for doing all that. To my mind, the obvious one is constantly providing the basis for offering consistent superior services to the customer.
2. Customer engagement drives loyalty and advocacy
Customer engagement is the emotional appeal that a customer has for an organization or brand. It is not the same as customer satisfaction. Fair price or product quality can induce satisfaction, but engagement captures customer’s experiences. The extent to which an organization’s culture and values are instilled in serving customers will determine the extent of that customer’s loyalty and advocacy for the organization. This is crucial because highly engaged customers buy more, talk more about the business (advocacy), and stay longer with the organization.
In recent times, changes in technology are shaping customer’s behaviour, and giving them more power and control over their choices and experience. The ability to obtain information about products and services in seconds puts them in control. Therefore, great leaders constantly seek better ways of improving their employee’s relationship in delivering superior customer service. Before the Internet era, customer experience began as the customers walk through the door. Today, such experience can be captured remotely on websites and mobile devices. This new development makes customer engagement more complex for organizations whose employees are not engaged to capture such data. While the dynamism differs for different organizations, only an engaged team of employees can drive and sustain great customer experience.
3. Customer engagement, loyalty and advocacy drive profit
Satisfied customers buy more, meaning, more revenues and more profits for the organization. They also tell their friends and families, encouraging them to buy from the organization. However, customers won’t advocate for a company unless their experience of that company is superb. In reality, only engaged employees can deliver such superb customer experience that creates repeat sales consistently.
So now, who comes first?
Employee engagement makes the difference between high-performing companies and those struggling in the marketplace. Although different companies pursue growth strategies differently, those leveraging internal resources and capabilities, and develop superb employee engagement deliver the most result. Therefore, investing in such strategies will not only result in superior customer service, it is a great competitive advantage for the business, also. To my mind, employee engagement trumps customer engagement so long as it continues driving superior customer experience.