Providing a World Class Experience for Internal Customers
The best growing businesses I’ve seen have discovered the secret sauce to scaling: consistency. If you can build a reliable and excellent experience consistently, growth follows.
I contend that companies that get the first part down and then use the same concept toward employee engagement will do even better. If you view your employees as your “internal customers” then you need to develop a “customer-centric” and consistent approach to growth. Let’s face it, our employees have options, HVAC technicians, plumbers, and electricians are hard to find so we need to put some effort in to keeping them. It only takes one bad experience or one bad day for any of our “internal customers” to try and find greener pastures, not dissimilar to our external customers. Here are a few tips to develop your internal customer experience:
1. Develop Systems for Communication
The biggest complaint in any organization, big and small, is poor communication. To prevent communication issues systemize your communication flow and plan for potential issues. If you do not plan, then you essentially plan to fail. In regards to communication, you need to know top down who is going to communicate, what they will communicate, and when they will communicate. Transparency throughout an organization is key to employee morale; communicate everything that isn’t off limits, and for the stuff that is off limits, communicate why it is off limits. These systems should be proceduralized and communicated to the team. It is also important to carry out the system. If team members have been promised a certain type of communication at a certain time then it’s important to deliver on that promise.
2. Make Your Value Known
This also comes down to communication, but it’s more specific. You win your external customers by verbalizing and following through with your promises, so do the same to your internal customers. One way to communicate your business’s value is to have your team write down value-adds several times a year. Tell them you are making an updated recruitment brochure and you want to list everything great about working at your business. You might be surprised at some of the things they consider value-added. Then follow through and make a recruitment brochure with those bullets listed. Bonus: take those things that are value-added and try to do them even better.
3. Create a Relationship
People work for more than just paychecks. In fact, you spend more of your awake hours with the people at work than your loved-ones at home. Take time to develop those work relationships: spend time with your team and encourage them to spend time with each other. People tend to stay at jobs for a longer amount of time because they love the people they work with. Every business should have KPIs and hold people accountable, but they should also balance that with good rapport building. Have activities outside of work, tell jokes, make work fun.
4. Track Happiness
There are a lot of methods out there. I use Tinypulse.com – an anonymous question once a week to get a quick gauge of your team’s engagement. I feel the anonymity adds to more open conversation. A constant and consistent medium to ask for guidance is crucial to a successful operation. An open door policy only goes so far. Unless you ask for the information and make it “safe” to for employees to provide the information, you’ll probably always be wondering how your employees truly feel.
5. Address Concerns Immediately
When we have a customer complaint in our business, we nip it in the bud. Within 24 hours we have that customer smiling again. We do whatever it takes because our reputation is on the line. We promise a level of service and if we haven’t delivered we have to own that. The last thing we want is a customer telling everyone they know the bad news. Our company does “happy checks,” where we call after a service and ask a 1-10 Net Promoter-type question. This concept should be repeatable with your team. You should ask them a Net Promoter-type question and if you get anything less than an 8, you should do everything in your power to make your employee smile again. Understand this: excellent employees rate their supervisors, not the other way around.