Have you ever walked into a store and seen a teenager at the register? What image comes into mind? Unfortunately, it’s far from inspiring. You might see eyes drooping; no smile; saying the right things but not really meaning it; maybe even checking their phones for messages; counting down the hours. It’s a sight we see all too often. We could blame society; we could blame the school system, or bad parenting, or government cut backs on spending, but in reality, it’s not really their fault.
They are suffering from a malady that is rife in almost every organisation and business, and it’s killing your customer service performance and sales every day. It’s the “I don’t care anymore” attitude. When this happens, service standards slip, customer requests are forgotten, complaints start to escalate, staff lateness and sick days are common place, organisations are in a state of chaos, staff are leaving in droves and you’re constantly having trouble keeping quality staff, and the business feels like it’s slowly dying from the inside.
What is staff loyalty?
In contrast, an organisation that is buzzing with staff loyalty are pumping out amazing experiences. These staff members are willing to stick it out longer to meet customer requests; they know exactly how to go above and beyond without being restricted by the system; they take the time to serve; and they actually get interested in your situation, like they would a friend. So what happens to make this change come about?
Why staff loyalty is your secret ingredient
Once you’ve conquered the staff loyalty mountain, anything is possible. You’ve created such high levels of performance that you create your own best practice methods. Your high standards and unique culture attract quality people to your team that make all the difference. The team become your advocates in the marketplace. Last year’s benchmarks are no longer acceptable; they set a new standard and the team is buzzing. Everyone is playing by the same sheet of music and improving the system. Your customers are being taken care of, and delighted with their experience. You might be thinking, “Wouldn’t that be nice.” “You don’t know my team, they’re hopeless!” “I tell them how important service is but no matter how hard I try it doesn’t sink in!”
How we turn our staff into raving fans of our businesses
So where do you begin to create an army of loyal staff members? This maxim is true for staff as it is for customers: “It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience.” To impact and improve your staff members’ experience of working with you, here are some helpful pointers to move the needle:
1. Measure staff word of mouth:
Just as you would conduct a survey with customers, perform a brief and anonymous staff survey. We recommend that you try the NPS method for collecting data as a simple way of getting an accurate insight into staff loyalty. It’s important to have an independent person perform this research in a private setting so only the most honest conversations are captured. Staff will not open up and tell the truth if they feel like they will be targeted for their feedback. Then read what they have to say. It might be hard to swallow but the value of this research is worth its weight in gold. In many ways, this type of staff research is like your canary in the mineshaft; it will be a gauge for how the company is really doing.
2. Set your team up to succeed
There is nothing worse than being thrown into the deep end without a paddle. Most people actually do want to do a good job but struggle with the resources or instructions provided. According to Edwards Demming, 94% of problems in a business are systems related, and only 6% are related to the people. One way to combat most problems is to ask yourself, “What system do we have in place for that?” Where was the breakdown in the system?” “How can we improve the system so this doesn’t happen again?” You’ll find that these conversations will lead to greater staff morale and loyalty rather than being at the receiving end all the time.
3. Catch them doing it right
Most staff members are familiar with that feeling of being watched or micromanaged by supervisors to see what they’re doing wrong. It almost catches people off guard when they receive a complement from their leaders. You’ll be amazed at how a simple piece of praise can raise the energy of a team. There is another saying, “praise in public, and correct in private,” so don’t be afraid to let other people hear this positive encouragement. It will do wonders for morale.
4. Reward staff with growth opportunities
So often we think that more money is the answer but often your best staff are looking for more opportunities to grow their career prospects and skills. Everyone wants the opportunity to do good and interesting work that stretches them. What better way to recognise and reward top performers and loyalty by promoting them to a higher level of responsibilities; letting staff to try their ideas and see what happens; giving some flexibility and time-off; sending frontline staff to leadership courses or upskilling them with things that they value; the possibilities are endless and inexpensive.
So what have you found to be secret to building greater staff loyalty? What’s worked for you and your team?