If You Want Your Company to Thrive, Treat Your Employees Like Customers
Excellent customer service is a primary factor behind the success of Echo Global Logistics, a provider of technology-enabled transportation and supply chain management services. We’re not only talking about business success – we’re also talking about talent acquisition and management success.
To keep up with the evolving millennial-driven workplace culture, Echo implemented some of its successful customer service strategies in its employee engagement model.
In other words, Echo decided to treat its employees like customers.
What Does It Mean to Treat Employees Like Customers?
It’s an idea that gets thrown around often, but what does it really mean? How do you treat your employees like customers?
According to Cheryl Johnson, head of HR at Echo, there are five primary customer experience cues organizations should follow when engaging their employees:
- Focus on building loyalty.
- Solicit and listen to employee feedback.
- Nurture a community.
- Give employees things they value.
- Make people happy.
In an effort to promote and support customer culture in the workplace, Echo developed a social community called “Echo Engage,” a application powered by HighGround.
“It helps us mirror employee experiences with Echo’s greater mission, vision, and values,” says Johnson.
Through this platform, employees can:
- recognize one another for living out company values;
- share their feedback with the company through surveys;
- create goals that are aligned with the company’s overall goals and mission;
- and carry out ongoing, continuous performance development conversations.
“Echo Engage helps us celebrate successes and offers visibility on the great things happening across our 30+ offices,” Johnson says. “When someone receives a recognition badge for a job well done, others will comment and like the badge.”
In addition to promoting employee engagement and gathering feedback, the platform also helps Echo’s executive team identify what works and what doesn’t.
“By using the application, our leaders can analyze data to identify high-performing employees, providing greater transparency across the enterprise,” says Johnson.
The Benefits of Promoting a Customer Culture Among Employees
The effects of treating employees like customers have started to show in Echo’s retention rates, referral rates, and year-end reviews. In addition to ranking No. 2 on Inbound Logistics’ list of the top 10 third-party logistics companies in 2015, Echo has also experienced a year-over-year favorability increase across the following employee feedback topics:
- “I can see the link between my performance and total compensation.” (+10 percent)
- “Echo operates by strong values and ethics.” (+17 percent)
- “There is good teamwork across departments at Echo.” (+13 percent)
- “Echo encourages employees to continuously improve the way we work.” (+15 percent)
- “I would highly recommend working at Echo to others.” (+11 percent)
- “I believe that Echo is going in the right direction.” (+12 percent)
Bringing Customer Culture to Your Company
Given such strong statistics, you might be wondering how your company can adopt a similar employee-customer culture model.
According to Johnson, the first step toward making a drastic shift in how you approach culture and engagement is securing leadership alignment and buy-in.
“Without executive support, you’ll be challenged at every step along the journey,” Johnson says.
That being said, it shouldn’t be too hard getting the buy-in.
“Employee engagement drives real business outcomes, such as increased productivity and profitability,” Johnson says. That alone should appeal to company leaders.
From there, it’s important to define values, enlist culture champions, build awareness, develop understanding of the program among employees, and measure adoption.
It can be daunting to think about all of the decisions and tactics that go into achieving the transition, so (as with anything) make sure to nail step one before even thinking about moving on to step two.
And, as Johnson says, “Fall in love with a problem, don’t fall in love with a solution.”
If you’re constantly aware of the business problem you’re trying to solve, you’ll be more programmatic in your approach to change. The details matter.