In today’s age of Twitter rants and scathing Yelp reviews, a single unhappy customer can snowball into a social media-fueled PR disaster.
Your customers demand personal, engaging experiences each and every time they interact with a company and when they aren’t delighted, they let the world know:
- 71% of consumers say they post complaints online
- 30% of people post online to vent negative feelings
- 23% of consumers post purely for vengeance
It is estimated that U.S. companies lose $41 billion each year due to poor customer service. More than three out of four consumers (76 percent) say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them, according to the 2015 Aspect Consumer Experience Survey. And more than half of all consumers say they’ve switched brands in the last year because of poor customer service.
Happy employees make happy customers.
Cumberland Farms Vice President of Retail Operations, Dave Merriam
Great marketing is an important component in building brand awareness and the most successful campaigns pay off the brand promise, product or service experience. However, continued (or even sometimes a single) negative interactions with employees could potentially poison your brand’s reputation.
Brands with stellar customer service begin with employees that are connected to and vested in what the brand stands for. Unfortunately, only about four in ten employees (41%) know what their company stands for and what differentiates the brand from its competitors. When your employees understand your company’s reason for being, it helps them feel connected and encourages a sense of belonging within the organization. In fact, according to Gallup’s research, two of the strongest factors for retaining Millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers are 1) ensuring employees have opportunities to do what they do best every day and 2) an emphasis on mission and purpose. It is no coincidence that publicly traded companies on the “Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For” list routinely see their stocks outperform the average. Compared with the S&P 500 which gained 13% in 2013, Whole Foods gained 31%, Marriott gained 28% and American Express gained 22%. All three companies are at the top of Fortune’s list, and are known for fantastic benefits packages, investing in their employees, and perhaps most importantly, cultivating a workplace culture of ownership and opportunity. Source: Forbes
Could Unhappy Employees Be the Real Cause of Your Customer Care Problems?
At Full Contact, part of our strategic process includes social listening. This exercise helps us get a better understanding of what customers are saying about our clients, their products/services, their industry, and their competitors. The results of this listening exercise not only provides valuable insights for our internal team, but it can also uncover/reveal new insights for our clients and serve as a powerful reputation management tool. For example, during the planning of a multi-media campaign for one of our clients, we engaged social listening as a means of benchmarking conversation pre-campaign. To our surprise, the exercise revealed an increasing trend of unfavorable mentions about the brand. When we dug in deeper, we discovered a large majority of these comments were coming not from unhappy customers, but from current (and former) employees.
We packaged up the data and presented it to the client, who in turn used the valuable insights to begin conversations internally to address the matter. Our client was able to identify the issue and take concrete, actionable steps to strengthen employee engagement resulting in a better customer experience. Most importantly, identifying the problem before launching the new marketing campaign ensured our client was best positioned to deliver on their brand promise of superior customer care. The result: happy employees, happy customers, and a very successful marketing campaign.
How Cumberland Farms Built a Culture of Customer & Employee Care
Our findings aren’t a one-off occurrence; they’re reflective of a larger industry trend. Brands that delight their customers delight their employees, too.
Another one of our clients, Cumberland Farms, is a great example of true commitment to customer service by way of putting employees first. The seventy-five-year-old company transformed from a long-standing convenience store chain to a fresh, modern foodservice experience that rivals most QSRs! However, this wasn’t just a shift in the business model. The real change began with senior leadership’s pledge to change the culture of the organization.
We focus on hard work and efforts of our people that are meeting and greeting the customer every day. If we take care of them, the business will thrive.
Cumberland Farms CEO, Ari Haseotes
Employees, at all levels, are encouraged to share their ideas and perspectives with the company. In fact, communication is so valued at Cumberland Farms that every employee has access to the personal cellphone numbers of every executive, including the CEO. In addition, the company provides more tangible benefits to employees including competitive wages, financial incentives, and healthcare benefits.
If you treat people like they make a difference and are responsible, they actually will make a difference and be responsible.
Cumberland Farms CEO, Ari Haseotes
So how can your brand improve your customer experience? Start by clearly communicating your reason for being to your employees and making an investment in your employees. A feeling of a personal stake in the business’s success and reputation will translate to better in-person customer service, better social care, and a more positive brand perception. When employees feel connected to the company’s mission and know they’re valued members of the team, they’re more likely to be in it for the long-haul.