I have experienced firsthand how putting employees first will not only earn their loyalty, but also build your brand in the marketplace. Why? Your employees are a reflection of your company, and their level of loyalty will shine through to your customers. Because you cannot personally share your passion for a superior product or service with every one of your customers, you must rely on your employees to deliver the same quality experience that you would in each and every interaction. Investing in your employees is not a “feel-good” proposition. It is a business essential that pays big dividends over time—and directly impacts the bottom line.
The Circle of Growth
I call the relationship between employees, customer loyalty and profitability the “Circle of GrowthSM.” Investing in people leads to happy employees who feel good about what they do; and they, in turn, will convey that feeling to customers. That generates customer loyalty, which will deliver profits back into the business. Those profits are then reinvested into employees, and the cycle starts anew.
How do I know this concept works? The call center industry is primarily a people business, and in an age when many corporate giants have chosen to outsource their call centers overseas, our company has a loyal following of clients committed to staying with a premium provider. In fact, our client retention rate is 97 percent; and we charge a premium for our services compared to our competition. Furthermore, we have a single-digit annual turnover rate compared to our industry rate of about 80 percent. The employee recruitment and retention cost savings alone proves the monetary benefit of keeping employees content and engaged.
How can you initiate the Circle of Growth in your organization to build the kind of corporate culture that increases employee loyalty and profitability? To accomplish this, I recommend four key principles: communicate openly, connect on a personal level, maximize resources and involve employees. Here’s a look at some of the strategies I have found that support each of these culture-building areas.
Communicate Openly. Employees do their best for their company when management has earned their “buy in.” That means two-way communication that keeps everyone informed about news and trends affecting the company—both good and bad. Town hall meetings, informal lunches with the CEO, and regular newsletters mailed to employees’ homes can all help keep employees informed. An open-door policy lets employees know they are welcome to bring their questions and concerns to management in the spirit of collective teamwork to solve problems and celebrate successes.
Connect on a Personal Level. In an age of voicemail, email and GPS tracking, employees can easily feel like a digital drone. However, reaching out to employees on a personal level is important because it shows that we value them as individuals. A handwritten note to an employee for a job well done or during a personal hardship establishes a personal connection. Making it a point to visit with employees who would not normally see you is another way to lend a personal touch. Also, do not forget to have fun along the way to lighten up your work environment. Sponsoring a company night at your local ball club or holding an office potluck is a great way for employees to get to know you and each other.
Maximize Resources. Employees are your single biggest investment, yet some companies spend more on their technological infrastructure than the people who run it. Recurrent training and promoting from within will motivate your employees to continue to learn and grow. Offering worksite wellness programs can motivate employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle, which will in turn reduce employer healthcare costs and productivity costs.
Involve Employees. Employees respond best when they are involved in the development and execution of ideas. By tapping talent from multiple departments to tackle business initiatives, you will be able to create the best solution possible. For instance, frontline staff members are at the point of service delivery—where the rubber hits the road with your customers. These employees can often brainstorm ways to deliver services more efficiently or cost effectively than upper management. By encouraging employee involvement, you help them assume accountability for the end product that your customer ultimately receives.
Creating a corporate culture that values employees as much as customers can pay real dividends in the long run. Your employees will be much more committed to go the extra distance to make a lasting impression on each of your customers, which will make your company outshine the competition.
Paul Spiegelman is co-founder and CEO of The Beryl Companies, the nation’s leading healthcare-exclusive call center company, and author of Why Is Everyone Smiling? The Secret Behind Passion, Productivity and Profit. Beryl has been chosen as the #2 Best Medium Company to Work For in America and repeatedly selected as one of the best places to work in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex and throughout Texas. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of California Los Angeles and a law degree from Southwestern University. For more information, please visit www.beryl.net.