Lessons of Loyalty and Employee Engagement...

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I came across some Forrester research recently, which highlighted how making customers feel valued is the key driver of customer loyalty.

It's certainly something I've always found. Humans have an exceptional ability to detect how someone feels towards them, and a trip to a retail store gives customers ample opportunities to sense whether the company really values them. Loyal customers feel the store is on their side.

But it's also true in the workplace. Whenever and wherever I've researched employee loyalty, feeling valued always comes out to be a key driver. For example, I was recently interviewing some employees of a small retailer. I was seeking feedback on their customers, but I was struck by how committed they were to the company. As I probed, I heard many stories about how the company had gone out of its way to accommodate individual needs around education, childcare, or other personal issues. They felt valued by their employer.

Of course, the two are intimately connected. I remember some research I did in the US into Retail and Service brands. I was trying to understand why customers were so clear which ones gave them good service and which ones didn't. The answer was blindingly simple. As one respondent put it: "In these stores the employees enjoy working there, in those they don't". As the old adage says, for "happy customers" you do indeed need "happy staff". And happy staff feel valued.

This would only be of academic interest if all employees felt valued. But as survey after survey has shown, the vast majority of frontline workers in the US (and indeed around the world) feel disengaged from the company they work for.

So if you want to improve customer loyalty, a good starting-point is to ask: "Do our employees feel valued?"