How turning your employees into digital advocates will give your business a major profit boost

Your employees are the front line when it comes to upholding or enhancing your business reputation so it makes sense that the more connected your employees feel to the business, the more proactively they will represent it.

Harvard University links employee satisfaction to customer loyalty in the service profit chain, and companies such as Southwest Airlines, Progressive Insurance and Taco Bell all recognise that doing the right things to ensure employee satisfaction has the very welcome consequence of creating customer loyalty.

A 5% jump in customer loyalty can increase profitability by 25% – 85%

The concept of the service profit chain is 30 years old and pre-digital disruption. So what can we take away from it today when the first, and sometimes the only, interaction between a customer and employee is via an internet connection, email or chat box?

Creating positive digital footprints

Digital footprints are impressions left about your business online. But unlike regular footprints, digital footprints last forever.

With 67% of purchasers being influenced by online reviews, digital footprints are the path toward or away from your front door.

Your customers will leave digital footprints about your business whether you like it or not, but what about your employees?

If you encourage your employees to build their own online brand, independently or within yours, then both they and the business will benefit.

Law firms and accountants have operated this way for years with partners building the business through the strength of their reputation, sharing points of view and converting passive customers to active ones by creating demand.

Social media creates the opportunity to extend this approach to every member of your team; for each member of staff, regardless of role or seniority, to amplify what they do and why that matters.

If all of your employees were advocating for your business using social media, how much more exposure would that generate? And how much more involved in the success of the business and their own careers would your employees feel?

Is your “Who we are” page falling short? 

If your goal is to build a sense of loyalty and pride in your business amongst your employees then you’ll be emphasising the importance, influence and individual impact of every member of your team.

Now look at your “About us” or “Who we are” page. Does it walk that talk, or like most, does it feature only the most senior leaders, and send the mental message to all others that they are not that important after all?

Contrast that to the way that companies like Buffer show public pride in each and every one of their team, and it should be clear that you are leaving a lot of opportunity for employee advocacy on the table.

Have the courage to showcase all of your employees at every opportunity starting with your online presence and you will leapfrog your competition in the field of transparency, which ultimately creates trust and that all important employee and customer loyalty.

Closed loop feedback

Closed loop feedback gives a business the opportunity to follow up with a customer by discussing their feedback one-to-one, be it praise, a suggestion or a complaint.

When you activate your entire team into driving customer satisfaction, closed loop feedback is the means by which sticky emotional connections can be created between your employees and customers at a local level.

Rather than a boilerplate survey or auto-response from an impersonal email address, closed loop feedback is initiated by, and delivered to, the most appropriate area of the business be that for example sales, customer support, accounts or the product team.

Individually following up on feedback reinforces that every customer matters. It also drives high levels of employee accountability, by putting the best person in your business on point to make that customer a fan from that interaction.

Most importantly for employee satisfaction and advocacy, sharing the responsibility to close the loop around feedback gives all staff equal opportunity to feel the intrinsic reward of helping someone or being directly praised.

Employee advocacy is earned not engineered

Whilst there are things a business can do to engender employee advocacy, the foundation for it is mutual trust.

With digital and social platforms there is still a barrier for business to overcome in order to trust employees to represent the company to the same extent that they are trusted to do so in traditional channels.

It’s okay for a junior sales person to interact with customers in the retail store, but maybe not online. The hotel bar tender can have a conversation across the bar, but not post their cocktail photos on their Instagram profile, and so on.

Then there’s association and transparency. We can see a staff directory on the wall of the big box store, but not online, and we can share feedback with an individual directly on-site, but not if we already left the building.

Businesses looking to build loyalty through development of the personal brands of their employees must first ask what they are doing today that prevents their employees being advocates, rather than focus on the things that their employees must do to become them.

In most cases the employee advocates are already there just waiting for support and permission from the business to get the word out.

This article was first published on LinkedIn


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