By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
We’re living in a world of customer-centricity, which I think is amazing. Customer experience and satisfaction are topics that I really enjoy learning and writing about, and I’ve witnessed the field service industry’s progression toward more customer centricity with glee. Seeing organizations in industries like manufacturing and utilities looking to companies like Amazon and Uber for inspiration on how to deliver what their customers’ want illustrates just how far we’ve come in embracing a world that revolves around delivering not just excellent service but an outstanding experience.
That said, what I fear is often an unfortunate byproduct in the quest for customer mastery is that a company becomes so hyperfocused on the happiness of its customers that it forgets about the happiness of its employees. Not only is this unfortunate, but it is counterproductive to the overall mission because achieving customer satisfaction with disengaged and unhappy employees just isn’t going to happen.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” and in the journey to customer-centricity it is imperative to keep your customers close and your employees closer. THEY are key to you accomplishing your customer experience objectives. Here are three questions to ask yourself about the level of satisfaction your employees have in their roles.
How Happy Is the Face of Your Brand?
Your frontline employees have more contact with those customers you’re trying to make happy than anyone else. How engaged, happy, and valued your employees feel will have a direct impact on how they treat your customers. Those customer centricity goals you have will be far easier to meet if you put the energy into employee engagement. I’ve had interactions with technicians that are frustrated and disenfranchised, and I assure you having to listen to someone complain about their supervisor, schedule, company, lack of support, and so on does not a good customer experience make!
Think about what tangible steps your company takes to make your employees feel valued. Perhaps you are having trouble thinking of many, or any? Or maybe you can think of a number but question whether or not they are working. If in doubt, ASK. Ask your employees how they feel and what they need. The best input from which to make improvements is their own.
How Do You Equip Employees for Success?
A large portion of employee satisfaction particularly in field service is feeling equipped and enabled to get the job done. Nothing will cause satisfaction to plummet faster than trying time and time again to please management and customers only to be left without the necessary tools, information, or assistance. We talk a lot about investing in technology that will please customers, but it is equally important to invest in tools that empower your frontline workforce.
Think about what it takes to set your employees up for success. Are they onboarded and trained properly? Once in the field, do they have easy access to customer history to be informed and to any knowledge library they may need to perform the job at hand? If they have a question, can they easily communicate with a colleague or support staff to get the help they need in real-time? And again – are you asking them what it is they need from you?
What Voice Do Your Employees Have?
I would argue that the #1 cause of employee frustration is that they don’t feel that their voice matters. This can be attributed to situations in which employees aren’t asked for feedback and rather just given directives, but is equally prevalent in situations where employees are asked for feedback but ignored. In the increasingly demanding service landscape, it is essential to work collectively as a team. The business transformation that most service organizations have underway can only truly be effective if your organization is working as a team, where everyone has a voice and every voice matters.
There are countless effective ways to communicate with your employees – yet communication is a key element that is overlooked in so many organizations. Whether it is one-on-one meetings, group sessions, company-wide webinars, use of social tools, whatever – ensure it is happening and that each and every employee feels comfortable and confident voicing their needs.
These points aren’t important solely as it relates to customer centricity. Field service organizations have even more motivation to focus on employee engagement, and this is in the fact that there’s a significant talent shortage in field service. You aren’t in a position to lose capable workers when there already aren’t enough to go around. Making an effort to focus more on employee engagement will not only help your customer efforts, but it will minimize the strain on your organization of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers that are increasingly hard to come by.