I have blogged several times about the link between employee behaviors and customer behaviors. I wanted to provide a real life example, back in March we had a house fire. Our outside A/C unit blew up and caught the side of the house on fire in the middle of the night. I was woken at 1:00 AM by the sound of a policeman banging on my door yelling at me to get my family out because my house was on fire. That was probably one of the most frightening experiences of my life. When we had the fire, the fireman said, "Well, now you will see how much you like your insurance." We had State Farm and I have learned, I hate State Farm. You are probably thinking, interesting story but what does this have to do with employee loyalty and employee-customer linkage.
I have been living the employee-customer link over the past five months, and not in a good way. Our claims adjuster (or really anyone from State Farm) is not exhibiting any of the behaviors one would expect from a loyal employee. Now, can I say for a fact that he has low employee loyalty, well obviously without having data I can't. However, I know that employees who are loyal to their companies tend to exhibit very positive behaviors, those behaviors will be seen by customers and customer behavior will correspond accordingly. I am not seeing any positive behaviors, in fact, it has been just the opposite. I have been a State Farm client for more than15 years and as of last week, I am no longer a State Farm customer. When I called a different company to get insured and told her what was happening (but without telling her who I was with), her response was, "So you are with State Farm aren't you? I have over half my clients from former State Farm customers." This tells me this problem is not isolated, and also tells me they probably have some larger culture and organizational issues going on. It is really quite sad. When someone goes through an experience like this, it is incredibly stressful and can be difficult to manage. So if someone is just remotely responsive and nice to deal with, it would go a long way. There was an opportunity for State Farm to gain my respect for years to come but given the experience, I have gone out of my way to make sure people know what an awful experience it has been.
So what is the takeaway? I coach middle school soccer right now and one of the things I try to teach the kids is keep your head up and always pay attention to what is going on around you and learn from what is going on around you. Every opportunity we have is an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and to learn something about how we should treat others. Companies need to learn from what is going on around them, by this I mean VoC information, employee engagement info, etc. More importantly, they must be willing to act on the information, no matter what it tells them. We have proven that companies that do this, outperform the marketplace 8:1, not a bad return.