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Optimum Talks Blog

Embracing a Customer-Service Philosophy in Leadership

by Lori Dyne

Your Employees are Your Customer Too

Organizations spend a lot of time and money in understanding their customers’ needs. We know that by putting the customer first, striving for a consistent experience, and embracing a customer-service philosophy, we can build meaningful relationships that ultimately drive more successful outcomes for a business.

The notion that people will often forget what you said or did, but never how you made them feel has become an axiom of customer service.

By centring the overall experience and perceptions of customers in decision making, organizations can ensure that the products and services they promote are reflective of their customers’ needs and values.

The Foundations of Customer Service Applied to Employee Experience

But perhaps clients are not the only ones who can benefit from strong customer service values. What if we were to expand the service-driven philosophy to include employees? Could we extend this same experience-focused, feedback-seeking mindset to the way that we lead our teams and manage our employees?

When we embrace a customer service philosophy towards employees, we enable a shift in focus to their needs and expectations. The issues which drive consumer choices (think accessibility, efficiency, dependability, and satisfaction) are also the issues that propel employee decision-making and fulfillment. Do you know about your employees’ needs and preferences? Do you consider these needs and preferences when you are making decisions for the organization?

Employees today are more aware of their options than ever before and want to drive their own work experience. Internal customer service requires that we move beyond the “one size fits all” approach to managing human resources, and strive for more inclusive, customizable solutions. Young employees just embarking on the first stage of their career will certainly have different needs and preferences than a senior manager approaching retirement.

So, how do we know what our employees want and need? Recognizing the importance of diversifying the employee experience to the broad range of people on our teams, how can we create something which feels tailored to each employee who we work with without overburdening the HR teams that manage the employee experience?

Engagement Surveys

There are lots of ways in which to connect with employees in this conversation. Employee engagement surveys are a great means of better understanding our teams’ motivations and attitudes towards not only their work but also the broader atmosphere and culture of the organization. Many organizations roll these out regularly to take the temperature of their employees, but here’s the clincher: in order for these surveys to be successful, you have to respond.

Much like customer satisfaction surveys, the individuals who make the time to respond should feel as though their efforts and answers are valued and taken into genuine consideration. Responding doesn’t always mean immediately implementing raises and promotions across the board but can go a long way in building the mutual trust that is key to a strong relationship. Making your employees part of decision making where possible and incorporating feedback into the way that new programs or products are rolled out are ways to ensure that your team sees themselves reflected in the work that they do.

Other Benefits

Employers can also focus on greater employee satisfaction by ensuring that the benefits package offered to team members is reflective of each employee’s distinct needs. Of course, it is difficult to anticipate and accommodate every individual with a single plan, but employers are now able to choose flex or modular benefit solutions that are customizable to the needs of each individual.

Other options such as a health spending account ensure that your employees are getting what they need out of their benefits package and deriving a greater sense of customization from their experience.

Career Transition

Another way organizations can integrate a customer service mindset within their teams is when employees are leaving an organization. This might sound strange, but how you treat your outgoing employees is just as important as how you onboard them.

Traditionally, when faced with restructuring organizations they either offer no external support or for those that do, they provide standardized outplacement packages. With organizations having employees spanning four to five generations, the notion that one career transition solution will fit the needs of all is outdated and can be ineffective.

Forward-thinking organizations understand the unique career differences and needs of their team and will seek solutions that meet them where they are and allow them to focus on what matters to their career journey – whether that is traditional outplacement services or modern career transition solutions that are focused on user choice and upskilling/reskilling.

Ultimately, by understanding that our employees, much like our customers, have options, we can be better equipped to focus on the employee experience within our organizations.  Seeking authentic feedback and responding by adapting our responses and services to the needs of our employees will ultimately result in a more engaged, educated, and satisfied team, and a stronger employer brand.


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