A small business owner’s handbook for defining, creating and measuring employee engagement and customer engagement.
Whenever we are at a family event or doing something around the house, my teenage son has this zombified look on his face. You know the one I’m talking about. When I see it, the first thing I say is, “Alexander – PARTICIPATE!” Things go better when you participate.
That’s the overarching message of a new book I’ve just received to review, Engaged! Outbehave Your Competition to Create Customers for Life by Gregg Lederman (@GreggLederman).
Lederman is only hitting on the obvious. The Gallup organization has done relentless and extensive research on the power of engaged employees and customers. They even have an index for it that measures the level of either employee or customer engagement. And guess what they found? The more engaged your employees and customers – the more profitable you are.
But the one thing that Gallup doesn’t tell you is how to engage these critical groups. This brings us to the contents and subject of this book.
Which is Better? Focus on Employees or Focus on Customers?
There is an old on-going argument in management about where to put your focus to increase profitability. There are two camps; the customer camp and the employee camp. There are examples of success from both sides. Engaged is a book about the employee side of the success and profitability equation.
Here is the basic philosophy behind the book:
“An ENGAGED workforce is made up of employees who are committed and motivated to act in the best interest of your company. ENGAGED customers fall in love with your company, are more loyal, proactively tell others about you and buy more of your company’s products and services (and do so more often). As you will learn, the benefits of engaging your workforce and customers are easy to see and difficult to refute.”
Profits and Success Come From Systems Integrity and Personal Integrity
I’m using the word “integrity” here from it’s definition of being “whole, complete, undivided.” Lederman says that without this kind of brand integrity and consistency – you can’t hope to compete.
Engaged gives you and your team the tools that will take you from ho-hum to highly effective. The book is divided up into two distinct sections:
Part 1: Define a Living the Brand System: This section is devoted to understanding and articulating exactly what your brand experience is and pulling together a system that incorporates it across the entire organization. A lot of organizations make the mistake of giving this responsibility to HR and Lederman warns against that. The three steps of this process are to clearly define the brand experience, remind employees about how to deliver the experience and finally quantify the experience and link it to financial results.
Part 2: Measure and Manage the Experience: There is an old business phrase that says, “You can’t change what you don’t measure.” Lederman gives you the tools you’ll need to begin quantifying the brand experience in all of the components of your business.
You might find the information in the book either challenging or confronting, because Lederman’s goal isn’t to give you the answers, rather it’s to give you the questions to ask yourself and your team.
Not Just for Large Businesses – But for All Businesses
When I first picked up this book, I thought it might be irrelevant to the millions of small business owners who are solo-preneurs who don’t have full-time employees. But this is not the case.
Granted Lederman does focus on businesses with full-time employees, but early in the introduction he defines employees as anyone who gets a paycheck from your business. And that certainly includes all of your virtual team members and vendors.
The Experience is Your Marketing
If you are one of those business owners who is completely and utterly overwhelmed by marketing and the plethora of strategies out there, you’ll be glad to know that Lederman says that the experience your customers have with your products, services, organization and employees is your marketing.
If you focus on that first, the rest of the strategies will fall into place and you will feel less overwhelmed.
About the Author
Greg Lederman is the Founder and CEO of Brand Integrity, an experience management company focused on delivering branded experiences to increase customer loyalty and profitability.
More than 50% of Lederman’s client companies are widely recognized as “best places to work.” He’s also the author of Achieve Brand Integrity: Ten Truths You Must Know to Enhance Employee Performance and Increase Company Profits.
Muster the Courage to Engage
As I was reading this book, it occurred to me that many organizations either think they have an engaged workforce or they want an engaged workforce. Here is something I know for sure. Reading this book will not give you that. Doing what’s in the book is what it takes – and this will require courage on the part of the business owner.
As the business owner, you might be afraid to see the real picture of how engaged or disengaged your workforce is. But your desire to make an impact and a difference in the world will have to override your fear. Courage means to be afraid and do it anyway.
Engaged gives you the roadmap to engage employees and customers that build profits for your company. So get on the road!
When it comes to deciding which is more important, the customers or the employees, I honestly can’t decide. I think making sure that both campers are engaged, is better for business. In one way or another.
Ivana S Taylor
I agree – both camps have to be happy. I will say that one thing I noticed that is somewhat unique to small businesses is that the owner, president or CEO has a HUGE impact on the brand of the company — who they are being as a business. This is actually important because it’s because of who they are — as people – as a company that their customers choose them. More than anywhere, in the realm of small business — it’s all about relationships — and I think this is the point you are making — it’s relationships that matter. And you have to balance employees with customers.
These days, people respond more to brands they trust. This is why you should always make it a point to engage with your customers. Teach your employees a customer-centered approach and see what happens.
Ivana S Taylor
Hi Aira – excellent point in your comment. I always say that PEOPLE make buying decisions, not companies. And so this is why engaging is such a powerful element of any strategy.