Brenda Neckvatal asked on LinkedIn Answers:
‘Can treating employees like customers increase job satisfaction?’
The Satisfied Employee
Here’s my initial response to Brenda’s question (with edits):
|It is crucial that we treat employees as ‘internal customers‘. Making that differentiation can make a lot of difference to how they perceive their jobs/roles and contribution to the company. Job satisfaction will equate to retaining of talents and knowledge assets, which is something a lot of managers are grappling with (especially in a positive economy).|
Peter Drucker said ‘management’s duty is to preserve the assets of the institution in its care’*. In that respect, all employees must be equally treated with the same care typically reserved for customers. In today’s information-producing workplaces, even more importance and care must be given to increasingly-mobile employees. Unlike the manual worker (who peddles his strength and energy), today’s information-driven employees retain their practice’s knowledge and developed skills and sought to bring them along to the next employer (and, in some cases, including knowledge of the ex-employer’s strategic and operational secrets).
Now watch what Tom Peters had to say about ‘treating your employees like customers’. Peters recounts a story about an American Airlines’ annual meeting in Dallas being picketed by the Airlines Pilot Union. On the same day and in the same city, the same pilot union took out two full pages of advertisement in USA Today to honour the contribution of retiring Southwest Airlines’ co-founder, Herb Kelleher. Why? Because of Southwest’s differentiated support and care for its pilots. In Herb’s own words, the secret of Southwest’s success is “You have to treat your employees like customers.”
The Employee Ambassador
Further, I continued in my reply to Brenda and the main focus of this post ‘Employees as Brand Ambassadors’:
|I personally subscribe to the belief that employees are an organisation’s best brand ambassadors. A satisfied employee talks about their employers in a better light, they share more about the brand and, in time, improve customers’ and public’s perception of the organisation. Especially when social media-generated content are indexed more and more by search engines, any brand mention by an employee (good or bad) can make a lot of perceptual difference to a prospective customer or client.|
Let’s explore more on why I believe employees are an organisation’s best brand ambassadors and how social media can help.
With social media (or more accurately, user-generated content channels, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) becoming the norm and pervasive in our daily lives, a satisfied and happy employee is more likely to be naturally-inclined in displaying their professional affiliation on their social media profiles. We see many examples of this on our friends’ Facebook profiles. I have personally encountered many tweets from my Twitter mates professing their admiration for their bosses and colleagues. A more publicly visible example would be Robert Scoble’s initial admiration for Rackspace and his subsequent employment with Rackspace, whom he consistently and positively write about on his personal blog.
The Happy Employee Ambassador Spreads the Word
The US$1billion American shoe company, Zappos, showed that encouraging and empowering its employees to be happy gave such a positive vibe that its customers return for more, one is even quoted as saying Zappos delivers ‘Happiness in A Box‘. And how about this? Zappos further helps its employees to spread its Happiness mission by building ‘Twitter.Zappos.Com‘. Not only it showcases all Twitter mentions (positive and negative) of Zappos, the portal also displays all tweets and twitpics by its employees for the world to see. Empowerment and trust at play. See it here: http://twitter.zappos.com/employee_tweets
Closer to home, look at how an ex-employee (Wei Yang) of The Garden Slug, a dining eatery in eastern Singapore, positively responded and left a public comment on The Garden Slug’s blog post to announce his next career change. Despite the severance of professional ties, the satisfactory and appreciated stint Wei Yang most likely experienced at The Garden Slug ultimately contributed to a positive PR outcome for the eatery in the form of public endorsement.
Here’s another real-life example. As a current employee of Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), my LinkedIn profile reflects my affiliation and I am happy to include a URL link to HRG Singapore’s Communique Digital Magazine on my profile (pictured below). Why? Because I am happy to be empowered with a major responsibility, which is to develop HRG’s communication initiatives and this is one of them.
And the result? Someone did clicked on the ‘Communique: HRG Singapore’ link on my LinkedIn profile and most certainly discovered more information on my employer (shown below)*.
A simple referral link on LinkedIn has positively provided exposure for my employer’s brand (and at minimal cost). Can you imagine the impact a unified and consistent LinkedIn approach by your happy employees will have on your organisation’s brand and stature? For B2B organisations, a devised branding strategy for LinkedIn may perhaps be a valuable, effective and worthwhile effort to undertake.
|So back to the question, how then do you create job satisfaction AND progressively encourage employee ambassadorship?|
That’s a big question that deserves its own post. In my opinion, a full dive-in is essential to fully understand what is required by leadership teams to engage ‘social media-empowered’ employees and how they can tap into these ready-pool of brand ambassadors. Despite its infamy as an exclusive arsenal of the irate customer, leaders must now view social media and its technologies as valuable tools to help an organisation meet its business or people objectives.
Part of my current thinking has been heavily influenced by Charlene Li’s ‘Open Leadership’ book (which I am currently reviewing, have a look here at what it all means). These are some of the keywords I will explore with you in the near future: ‘employee empowerment’, ‘organisational openness’, ‘collaborative work’.
In the meantime, can you think of any other examples of happy employees who have undoubtedly become brand ambassadors for their employers? Please share in the comments as I’d love to hear from you.
* Quote from ‘Management Challenges for the 21st Century’
* Disclosure: I am currently responsible for Communique: HRG Singapore hence the access to the web analytics.
All opinions stated in this blog are of my own and not of my employer.
Category: Branding, Management & Leadership, Social Media | Tags: brand ambassador, branding, Drucker, employees, leadership, LinkedIn, open, Social Media, the garden slug, Tom Peters, Zappos One comment »