Dan Yeo: Improving customer loyalty through employee engagement
By Dan Yeo, Head of Media and Online Relations, Search Laboratory
Customer loyalty is tough to achieve. It takes considerable time and painstaking effort to build, but it always starts with one thing: employee belief. If your employees don’t believe in the product or service you offer, how can you expect your customers to?
Recent research by GetApp, a leading business software resource, revealed that over 20% of employees don’t believe in the services or products they’re selling. Workers were asked to rate their employers’ product experience, and a significant proportion of respondents expressed either indifference or pessimism.
Building customer loyalty requires employees that are fundamentally invested and engaged in the business they work for. They must be capable of communicating the value of products and services to customers with confidence.
Thanks to social media, individual voices have never been more powerful. Negative posts by employees about a company have the potential to go viral and significantly affect customers’ perception of a brand.
Understanding your product experience
Getting workers invested in your brand requires understanding your current product experience. Gartner research cited in the GetApp report found that product experience was the single most influential contributor to improved customer loyalty, and that there is a framework of four factors that define this product experience.
- Life enrichment
Does the product or service maintain or improve the quality of your customers’ lives? Does it increase their personal satisfaction and wellbeing?
The Gartner research also found that this was the worst scoring category for employees, with 36% of them having negative or neutral responses about whether their product makes customers’ lives better.
- Product utility
Put simply, does the product or service work? Does it achieve the aims that it sets out to? Does it fulfill the role that was advertised?
This is the most black and white of the factors used to understand product experience. If a product doesn’t work, there is no way that employees will be able to sell it to customers.
- Product usability
Can customers easily use the service or product? No matter how advanced it is, can customers get what they need from it?
Employees also flagged that product usability was an issue, with 22% of them disagreeing that their product was easy for customers to use.
- Customer needs alignment
Does the product or service address the changing needs of the customer? Has the offering adapted over the years to remain competitive and industry-leading?
In almost all industries, there have been significant innovations over the past few years, so companies that don’t evolve and adapt their product offering risk being left behind.
How to improve your product experience through employee engagement
Improving product experience not only increases employee and customer buy-in, but also improves employee morale when you include them in the ideation and creation of new ideas. Employees design, build and sell a product or service, which puts them in an ideal position to identify shortcomings and suggest solutions.
Business owners should formally survey their employees about each of the following four pillars of product experience, and how to improve on each of them.
- How can our product make customers’ lives better?
- How can our product work more effectively?
- How can we make our product easier to use?
- How can our product better address our customers’ needs?
This process brings insight that businesses may have previously lacked, with more employees speaking up and contributing their ideas. Implementing changes suggested by individuals also makes them more bought into the product or service.
With the twofold benefits of improved product experience and motivated employees who have been intrinsic in that improvement, this will drastically improve employee engagement and ultimately foster the belief that is so essential to a business’s success.