June 9, 2016
by Michelle Smith
The challenges facing today’s Marketing executives are daunting.
Not only are we charged with doing even more with even less, but doing it faster and more effectively than ever before. Further, we’re faced with unprecedented options for customers consuming advertising, social media and marketing messages, only to find our messages are lost among the noise.
So how can you find a proven advantage over your competition? Look to your employees.
Engaged Employees = Improved Customer Satisfaction = More Profits
“Linking Organizational Characteristics to Employee Attitudes and Behaviors – A Look at the Downstream Effects on Market Response & Financial Performance,” research done by the FORUM at Northwestern University, focused uniquely on employees who had no face-to-face contact with customers. This is a particularly intriguing angle given the ubiquity of service and internet-based organizations where in-person interaction is limited or even non-existent. These channels are often the most difficult for Marketers to navigate successfully.
The study identified a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance. Further, it found that satisfied employees see their positive attitudes transferred directly to satisfied customers. This is a powerful message for employees to hear and Marketers to understand and reinforce throughout their organization.
Particularly interesting for marketing professionals, the research identified several key findings that should be considered when designing marketing campaigns and allocating budgets.
- Organizations with engaged employees have customers who use their products more, and increased customer usage leads to higher customer satisfaction
- It’s an organization’s employees who influence the behavior and attitudes of customers
- An organizational environment where employees are given a voice should be highly valued
Your Employees are Your Most Vocal & Active Brand Ambassadors
This powerful research provides Marketers with another tool when looking to creatively leverage precious marketing budgets. Consider using a portion of your annual marketing budget to create ‘brand advocate’ training and recognition initiatives that promote higher levels of employee engagement, collaboration and cooperation.
Undoubtedly, your internal resource pool is rich with knowledgeable, passionate, energetic employees who, with the right organizational culture, can translate employee engagement into highly valued customers who keep coming back.
- Support company employee engagement programs
Marketers should partner with their Human Resource leaders to collaborate on the design of a company-wide employee engagement program. Consider devoting a portion of the annual Marketing budget to specific employee-facing initiatives that link internal and external brand advocacy actions.
- Involve employees in the design of external marketing initiatives
Just as important as the Voice of Customer, leverage the Voice of Employee. Employees are a great resource for creative options and an important front line for feedback. As committed participants in the process, they’ll be more apt to promote and defend the ideas.
- Partner with company leadership to promote a strong internal culture
This research identified that a significant driver of employee engagement is organizational culture. Optimally, employees must be expected to cooperate and work together, yet also take charge and provide a voice for the customer within the organization.
Photo credit: Flickr user Sushil Kashyap
About Michelle Smith
A world-renowned speaker, writer, and consultant, Michelle M. Smith is a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies and governments. A highly accomplished industry leader, she is a respected authority on leadership, internal branding, and engagement. As O.C. Tanner's Vice President of Business Development, she intuitively understands the importance of unlocking an employee’s hidden potential, and how to leverage performance development initiatives for a maximum return on investment. A recognition and engagement thought leader, Michelle has been named as one of the “Ten Best and Brightest Women in the Incentive Industry.” She is President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association, past president of the FORUM for People Performance at Northwestern University, among other prestigious board positions past and present.