Yesterday I called a customer service number for a company that I do business with.  Lots of questions for them and some confusion on my end.  The agent that spoke to me was wonderful, kind, and professional.  They seemed excited to help me and I truly felt as if they were pleased that they were able to assist me and to answer my questions.  The next day I called a different company.  The agent was gruff, seemingly unhappy, and told me they were unable to help as they didn’t work in that department.  End of call.  What is the difference between the two calls?  Is it in how I interacted on the calls?  Not in this case.  It is more likely how the agent’s experience had been.  How did the agent feel that day?  How was their experience at work going? Did anyone seek to meet their wants and needs? This is important because we are not in the same world that we lived in five to ten years ago, when it was easier to hire another employee or a new agent.

In this new post-pandemic environment, the shift in power has changed from leader to employee.  Employees have a tremendous choice of jobs, roles, locations etc. The employee experience dictates the customer experience in many cases. Employees who feel valued and respected will often be the standout service providers in your organization. As a leader, did you ask how they felt today?  How you might support them?  What they needed today?  By ensuring that your employees’ needs are met, you can often improve the service that is given to your customers.

Employee and customer needs go hand in hand

Employees are customers.  This is a newer way of thinking but rings true in our world today.  We must consider not only how we can service the needs of our customer, but also service the needs of our employee.  They go hand and hand. In taking care of one, we take care of the other.  To service the customer at the highest levels, there needs to be an employee who is engaged, excited, focused and who feels a sense of belonging.  Previously we spoke to agents about development: The areas that they might want to grow in and eventually transition to.  Conversations about school and education were at the forefront.  We were very forward thinking in our minds.  We most likely were at the time.  Today, many of the conversations are about well-being and mental health.

Well-being.  This is a large category but one that includes having a sense of belonging, a focus on health, and mental wellness.  With so many employees working remotely, how do we manage to give them a sense of belonging?  Often, this is about feeling valued. This needs to be a priority for any company. Belonging and value are different for every person and can range from understanding more about the employee’s interests and family, to ensuring that there are team events via Zoom or Teams and some in-person community outings.

Building community and investing in employee well-being

Today’s employee is much more focused on their environment, so often team outings can have a giving or volunteering aspect such as working with the homeless, planting trees or plants as part of a reforestation project or volunteering at local food banks. More and more companies are investing in health tools either internally or outsourcing them and providing them at no cost to employees.  This can include access to nutrition counselors, free gym resources, blood pressure monitors, diabetes education and other tools designed to improve overall health. Fun employee contests focused on counting steps are also immensely popular today.  This can be a personal competition to set their own challenge for a certain number of days to be outside, or to take the stairs, for example. It can even be to increase their water intake. All these things can also improve employee mental health.

Ask yourself who you want helping you and your family at your favorite store or restaurant or taking your call when the cable goes out?  In general, it’s someone who is engaged and excited to assist you.  To achieve that level of service, companies need to make the idea of “employee as customer” a primary focus.  Treat the employee the way you want your customers treated and you will win in the end: Satisfied, engaged employees are much more likely to deliver the kind of customer service you would want for yourself.

Cippy Seidler is an enthusiastic and engaged leader focused on providing a high-level customer experience through employee engagement and a commitment to excellence. She has a strong background developing and delivering employee and leadership training with a focus on customer relations and sales. Cippy has served in leadership positions with many organizations with a specialized focus on front-end customer engagement and retention, employee training and sales development. She has developed certification programs for staff and designed training and development materials while building operational efficiencies in call centers and retail stores.

Currently a Director of Contact Centers with Banner Health, one of the largest, secular nonprofit health care systems in the country, she is responsible for driving performance across multiple service lines. As a certified Change Agent and DDI certified facilitator, Cippy is an advocate for change and is involved in leading and implementing change.