Today’s business environment is very different from six years ago when the pace of economic progress seemed unstoppable. With fewer prospects for growth and expansion, today’s design and construction companies are forced to fact-gather and research their markets, existing and potential customers, as well as competitors, ever-more carefully – failure to pay attention to changes in old markets or new opportunities could cost them their existence. Understanding client behavior – what makes them tick, how they make decisions, how they buy work and so forth – has become a critical element in today’s business dealings, particularly in the design and construction industry where people and relationships are key.
So what kind of employee will go the extra mile to find an answer for a client? What kind of employee will take the trouble to walk a client through an issue, rather than pass them along the bureaucratic chain? What kind of employee demonstrates intricate knowledge of the company’s strengths, expertise and history? The answer is any employee, provided they are motivated about their role within a company. Here are four ways to engage your employees, which will eventually result in a solid foundation for a successful customer loyalty program.
- Provide your team with necessary tools and training. Creating learning opportunities for staff at all stages of their career will not only keep them flush with leading practices and occupational guidelines, but will encourage them to view their job as evolving – as a role that gives them something in return for their efforts. Boredom or insecurity rather than malice is often the cause of dissatisfactory interactions with clients. By investing time in training your staff so that they are equipped to deal with client queries, you are creating an opportunity for them to contribute meaningfully to the success of the organization – this in turn can motivate them to perform in the future.
- Enlist frontline leaders and mentors. Giving employees a sense of ownership over their work at all levels can extend positive cultural behaviors out to the front-lines. While some employees will be motivated by their progress through the pipeline, other employees will be satisfied with the position they have, and seize on greater responsibility at their current level. Appointing shift leaders or rotating team organizers can bring employees into the fold, where they might otherwise have felt indifferent about their efforts. Creating front-line leadership positions also opens the door to increased transparency and demonstrates that the company has shown trust in them.
- Break down the barriers between different silos within your company. As sales employees and operations employees focus in on doing their jobs well, they will likely not even think about the work that other departments perform. But the face time an operations manager has with clients out in the field is invaluable for developing a rapport and getting leads on other jobs. Likewise, sales staff may not understand the actual work their operations counterparts perform, and could leverage greater knowledge of the workings of their company in sales discussions. Breaking down the barriers between siloed departments can facilitate the sharing of ideas and encourage cohesiveness among employees. Occasionally, it may even garner a business opportunity.
- Incentivize the workplace to encourage positive behavior. A touching speech by the CEO at a company-wide meeting may go a long way toward hitting the reset button on employees long dis-engaged. Likewise, when senior management acknowledges the good work of an employee, it may spark a desire to do well for the company among employees. But creating an environment in which these cues are constantly encouraging employees to connect with their work will see more consistent performance. Building financial and non-financial incentives into an employee’s work and recognizing solid performances either on annual reviews or in more informal monthly shout-outs is crucial to getting employees to switch on.
To read more on how to engage your employees to build loyal clients, download FMI’s whitepaper, “Loyal Employees, Loyal Clients: Building Your Business The Old-Fashioned Way In The New Cut-Throat Market” by clicking here.