Defining the Customer/Employee Engagement Crossroads
“Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody’s got a hungry heart”
Winning the hearts and minds of customers and employees is no easy feat even in the best of times. The recession has made it that much more of a challenge because of how decisions that may have been necessary to deliver results in the short term have led to unintended consequences for the long term. And this challenge is about to become even more complicated.
The diagram below typifies another part of why engendering customer and employee commitment has become quite the dilemma for most organizations today. Please note the following descriptions:
- The “x” axis represents time (before the recession, during the recession and post-recession).
- The “y” axis represents quantity or amount
- The “purple line” represents customers
- The “blue line” represents employees
Prior to the recession, a company may have enjoyed a steady stream of customers and had an adequate number of employees to serve, support and thrill customers. Then the recession hit and the number of customers went down. For a while, there were more employees than there were customers. Then, as customers dropped off, companies started to pursue layoffs in order to ensure that profit margins were maintained. As we move out of the recession, customers will return, but the reality is that most companies will not replenish their workforces to the point that they are able to match the quantity of customers. Thus, the “crossroads.”
How do you as a leader engage your employees and your customers with limited resources? How does an organization solve this problem? Or is this really not a problem to be solved or a dilemma to be managed?
Regardless of how you frame it, shortsightedness got most companies into this mess. Decisions were made (and probably had to be made) that benefitted short-term profitability. But what got you into this mess will not get you out. To solve this challenge or dilemma, you need long-sightedness to find solutions that will set up your organization for success over the long haul. Here’s how:
First, you have to “put on your oxygen mask” and recognize that the recession and all the decisions that affected your customers and employees affected you, too. You lived through difficult and tenuous times and you have a choice in what you will do with the adversity. Will you deny that it had any effect on you or will you allow the experience to transform you into a better and stronger leader? Will you allow these challenges to create in you an inner resilience that allows you to have a leadership power base not rooted in a job title, office size or perks, but in the strength inside of yourself?
Out of that place, you win your employees’ hearts and minds back first, before you win back your customers’ hearts and minds. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the reality is that you cannot win the hearts and minds of your customers without your employees. It is your employees who represent your company to the world. Your intentions towards your customers are walked out daily when your customers pick up the phone and talk to your employees. Or when your customers are waited on and served by your employees. Or when your employees create or do not create the cutting-edge products/services desired by your customers.
Thus, if you focus your efforts on creating a company that is a great place to work, the by-product of your efforts will be a company with a strong competitive edge in the marketplace.
The bottom line
Take action today to re-engage yourself, your employees and your customers. Look at what has worked in your company to engage your customers and employees in the past. Glean applicable best practices from other companies. Finally, lean into this crossroads as both an opportunity and a dilemma to be managed (vs. an either-or problem to be solved), so that you can discover creative breakthroughs.
Are you ready to take your organizational effectiveness to the next level? Check out the other resources available online at www.acceleraconsultinggroup.com or give us a call at 407.376.8522 for a free consultation. We accelerate results by igniting leadership and organizational potential!