Empower Customer-Facing Employees to Engage Customers

Are your customer-facing employees empowered to engage your customers in a meaningful dialogue—in person, over the phone, online, and through social media? They should be.

Your customer-facing employees are your brand to many of your customers. They provide your products and services. They answer customer questions. They understand customers' needs and wants. They actually talk to your customer more than anyone else within your company.

Do they have the resources to know what the customer has bought from you in the past? Do they have a database where they can record what a customer said they did—or did not—like about your product or service?

Your customer-facing employees are critical to your business success and to developing engaged customers. People buy from people they know, like, and trust. Your employees need to understand this and know that you are counting on them to provide an excellent customer experience.

If the customer is not satisfied, your employees need to be empowered to "make it right," since a customer whose problem is resolved is more likely to become a long-term customer than someone who never complains.

While your actual brand is an inanimate, faceless company or corporation, the customer-facing employees are the brand to your customers. That's who your customers are developing an emotional connection to. And that's a good thing.

Loyal, satisfied customers want to see the companies and people they support survive and thrive. Customers who are provided with consistently excellent, and occasionally exceptional, customer service will become raving fans. Raving fans will do your marketing for you, telling their family, friends, colleagues, and even people they don't know about you on social media.

That's why it's important to engage your employees and ensure they understand the importance of them engaging your customers.

Get your employees to find out:

1. What customers like and don't like about your products and services

2. What you do better than your competition

3. What your competition does better than you

4. What makes you different

5.What would be a "wow" customer experience for that customer

Have your employees document these findings. It will be invaluable information for you and your management team as you evolve and refine your product and service offerings moving forward. The more you and your employees know about your customers, the more you will be able to do for them, anticipate their needs, and make their lives simpler.

Anything you can do to simplify the life of a customer will make you invaluable and bring you into his or her "inner circle." You are earning customers' trust and showing that you care about them as individuals rather than as just transactions.

Empower your employees to deliver wow customer experiences. Recognize and reward them for doing so. Customers will share these experiences with their family, friends, colleagues, and social media. Give them powerful stories to share.

What you and your employees invest to provide a wow customer experience will be returned many times over in the referrals and word-of-mouth marketing you receive when your customer shares his stories with others.

By recognizing employees that provide a wow customer experience, you are empowering all of your employees to do the same sorts of things for customers that will help earn you customers for life.

The employees that take it upon themselves to learn more about your customers, anticipate their needs and wants, make their lives simpler, and deliver wow customer experiences are the employees you want to keep. They are the future managers of your company. They will ensure that you have a customer-centric culture moving forward.

If you're not able to keep these employees, you have provided them a tremendous learning opportunity, and one that will serve them well in whatever they decide to pursue moving forward.

By the way, the questions you are asking your employees to ask your customers are the same questions you need to be asking your employees about their own jobs to let them know you care about them, their aspirations, and their success.

The more your employees know you care about them as individuals, the more engaged they will be in their jobs and in providing an excellent customer experience.

After all, your employees will only treat your customers as well as they are treated themselves.

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Posted August 19, 2014