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Employee Engagement and Customer Service Stories

Employee Engagement and Serving Customers

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One of the keys in the Zinger Model of Employee Engagement is Serving Customers.  I am very fortunate to have received the two following stories from Doug Shaw outlining being an engaged employee and providing fully engaged service to customers.

Doug Shaw

I appreciate that Doug was able to incorporate the employee engagement in one sentence exercise from the Employee Engagement Network.

Stop Doing Dumb Things to Customers

December 2008. Myself and a few colleagues were so frustrated by the company’s unwillingness to listen to the front line and customers. In turn this led to lots of dumb things happening. We invited colleagues from all across the business to come together and talk about two things.

  1. Their best customer experience in the past 7 days.
  2. What single thing could BT do to stop doing dumb things to customers? The event was buzzing, really buzzing.

We shared stories and agreed on just a few improvement ideas. You can read about the ideas here. One in particular was to be more open, more public, less groupthink and corporatetalk, more real, more engaging.

So – I took the output from the event and began to share it internally and externally. The response was great, we very quickly had thousands of people reading and contributing. Everything from congratulations, constructive criticism, more ideas, people poo-pooing the whole concept, everything.

We started to integrate other engagement ideas, for example we ran a version of David Zinger’s excellent engagement in one sentence. We had loads of contributions and hundreds of people downloaded the paper we put online. We started a discussion group on linkedin and made connections with other networks, all very open source thinking.

By the time I left BT in June 2009 the internal blog was one of the most read in the whole of BT, people loved it and looked forward to it coming out. It became a place people went to have a bit of a laugh, dial out some of the fear in the workplace and get a sense of purpose. Also some of the ideas we’d been sent and talked about had come to life. Having been co-created they were being owned, and done. Why? Well this whole thing reflected and supported our front line colleagues and through them, our customers. They were represented, and given a voice. I am extremely proud of the effect this experiment had on colleagues, customers and me. I continue to develop the public blog.

My Customer Challenge Cup

When I worked for BT plc, the company ran a My Customer Challenge Cup. Staff were encouraged to enter the challenge by identifying customer problems and proposing ways of solving the problems. Initial rounds were judged online, then semis at a local hotel with a grand final at a nice holiday destination. I don’t know how many teams enter, but it’s a lot. This has been running for a few years and I think it’s a great piece of employee/customer engagement. Here’s an entry to the competition I was proud to captain in 2008:

A colleague and I discovered we were trashing all our old mobile phones to landfill waste. At the same time we read a customer survey stating that our customers wanted us to recycle more and keep doing our bit for charity. We engaged with all relevant stakeholders to build a contract with a third party who took over the phone disposal/recycling/reuse process. We developed a simple system for our employees and customers to return unwanted handsets which then get dealt with according to their suitability. The company gains by reducing hazardous waste and meeting stated customer needs. The company also saved around £3m through the contract. The customer gains by seeing us act responsibly and our charity gains by receiving some of the profit from sale of reusable handsets. We publicised this idea through an internal customer satisfaction competition, and we put details in internal press and our shareholder report magazine and our annual CSR report. Thousands of people participated in the scheme, I know that well over 20,000 handsets had passed through the scheme in less than 18 months.

If you would like to visit Doug Shaw’s excellent blog site: Stop Doing Dumb Things To Customers: Great ideas helping to create powerful customer experiences click here.

I encourage you to leverage Doug’s stories for either the ideas he offers or for your own stories of employee engagement. What are your stories and experiences demonstrating the links between employee engagement and engaged customer service?


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