Michael Lowenstein on Why “Employee Retention, Engagement, and Ambassadorship Go Hand-in-Hand-in-Hand At Successful Companies”

Lwenstein imageHere is a brief excerpt from an article written by Michael Lowenstein for the Beyond Philosophy website. Founded in 2002 by customer experience author and thought leader Colin Shaw and business partner David Ive, Beyond Philosophy has since become a leader in helping organizations to create deliberate, emotionally engaging customer experiences that drive value, reduce costs and build competitive advantage. The company specializes in strategic consultancy services, custom research, training and education. Beyond Philosophy has pioneered new, proprietary methods for analyzing both the rational and emotional sides of the customer experience. To learn more about the firm, please click here.

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Nearly all companies are concerned about employee turnover; and, with the worldwide economy in recovery, it has become a priority. In some industries – notably retail, customer service, and hospitality – annual staff churn rates of 30% to 40% and more are not uncommon, and even considered acceptable. While this situation may be a reality in many companies, it isn’t a very sound strategy, and from multiple perspectives:

o The value employees can bring to customers is diminished
o The breakdown in customer-staff continuity and trust when employees leave
o The negative cultural effect of turnover on other employees
o The real ‘total cost’ of losing employees, including hiring, training/coaching, productivity

So, retention has become a huge issue today. We should be concerned about it, of course; but we also need to focus on the degree to which employees who stay with a company are directly and indirectly contributing to customer loyalty behavior.

Numerous studies have been conducted on elements of employee value, addressing reward and recognition, job fit, career opportunities, work environment, departmental and management relationships, etc. It is pretty much conventional wisdom that, during this period where there is great demand for exceptional talent, especially individuals who are diligent, innovative, and customer-focused, successful companies will also have loyal employees.

Twenty years ago, consulting organizations began moving away from employee satisfaction to employee engagement as a focus, on the theory that employees who were well-trained, well-compensated, aligned with the company’s business goals, and involved in the organization’s direction would be contributory and solid team players. That said, much of engagement research has not been able to prove (beyond incidental connection) that, while having happy and aligned staff is sufficient for somewhat higher levels of employee retention and productivity, engagement, in and of itself, only marginally connects to optimum customer loyalty behavior.

One of the shortfalls too often seen in engagement, particularly as this type of research applies to optimizing customer experience, is that, even if employees are trained in brand image, this does not mean they will deliver on the product or service value promise to customers or other stakeholders. Image needs to be integrated with building a culture of true customer focus. In other words, the external brand promise has to be experienced by customers every time they interact with the company.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Lowenstein, MMichael Lowenstein provides strategic consulting, research design and in-depth, leading-edge analysis that helps clients deliver outstanding business results through deeper customer experience, communication, relationship, employee and brand equity insights. A visionary marketing, brand, customer experience, and communication research and consulting executive with over 35 years of professional experience, Michael has credentials as a strategic and innovative research consultant in many b2b and b2c product and service industries. Click here to learn more.

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1 Comment

  1. kare anderson on September 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Yes, encouraging employees to be avid, relevant and articulate ambassadors of the company brand will fall flat if not made an integral part of the company culture, which makes sense for most initiatives that fail. As Lowenstein indicated, the value of employees making every touch point positive is priceless. So is the inherent leveraging that happens of shared learning an esprit de corps that inevitably boosts retention and reputation — of the firm and of employees… as I suggest in my Forbes column http://www.forbes.com/sites/kareanderson/2013/03/24/make-your-company-top-of-mind-and-your-employees-proud/2/

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