Culture is Critical – Value Your Employees for a Successful Customer Experience
Corporate culture and teamwork lead to superior customer experiences and overall business success.
I was recently speaking with a client who is actively looking at the acquisition of a competitor. One of the concerns is about the turnover of clients in the last few years, what that says about the business going forward, and importantly what it says about the culture of the business today. Clearly, a business that is continually churning customers is one where the culture needs to be analyzed. Is the customer getting valued properly? How are the team dynamics within the business? How are employees treating customers?
It took me back to several years ago when I was running surgery centers. One of these centers had 800 patient procedures each month. It was a very busy place with 50 employees, 40 physician partners, and a lot of patient activity every day. I was responsible for the financial performance (the P&L), the management of staff, and all the partnership issues that emerged with doctors in the practice. Each of those items were extremely important to the overall success of the business. But on a day-to-day basis, was I impacting the perception of the value of coming to our surgery center for one of our customers – a patient? The answer is generally no, other than the culture that we had fostered in the organization.
Customer Experience – Patients
We all know that customer experience is extremely important. In our surgery centers, patients were the customers. Each was given a survey to complete at home sometime after their surgery. From those surveys we were better able to understand how we performed as an overall team, but it also gave patients the opportunity to recognize individuals that made an impact on their experience. In all my years of running surgery centers, my name was never once mentioned in any of those surveys. Why would it be? I center, but I wasn’t part of the direct patient experience. Instead, we always had three individuals that stood out amongst all others. We had a great team and culture – incredible nurses, surgical technicians, and doctors. However, it was our receptionist and two orderlies (who took patients to their vehicles after the surgery) that were almost always sited for being a positive experience from the patient (customer) perspective.
First and Last Interactions
Why did the receptionist and orderlies receive the most praise from patients? It’s really quite simple. They were the first interaction and the last interaction with the patient, both of which are critical to a customer experience.
In our case, a patient walked in the door nervous about their procedure or surgery. The receptionist was very professional, friendly and made them calmer. Immediately the receptionist made a positive difference for the patient and became someone that they were going to remember. When a patient recovered from their procedure, an orderly would patiently and kindly help them get safely to their vehicle. This last experience of that visit. The orderlies made a huge difference n patient satisfaction. The receptionists and orderlies were some of our lowest paying roles but their impact on customer experience was dramatic.
In between the receptionist and orderly experiences, patients had great nurses, techs and doctors, but thanks to anesthesia, these interactions were often not remembered. So, when you talk about what’s valuable in a business it isn’t always titles and salaries that drive the best outcomes, it’s the performance of the team and all, and everyone playing a role. And in our surgery centers we had a culture that made everyone feel valued and appreciated. On any given day if I were absent, the business would run as usual, but if a receptionist or the orderlies were, we could have some disruption in the customer experience.
Value Your Employees – Create A Team Culture
How do you value the roles of your team? It’s important as an owner or a manager to foster a culture where everyone is valued. It never helps to place yourself on a pedestal; you would then be losing sight of who is really important. The correct answer should be everyone, but on a given day from a customer perspective, entry level employees may make the biggest difference of all.
Customers are only going to come back if they had a positive experience. If they walk in the door and their initial encounter is negative, they may turn around and walk right out. And if they have a negative experience when leaving, a customer is never going to want to come back. So, that first interaction and that last interaction are extremely important. And having the right people in those roles is absolutely critical.
So, I frequently reminded myself when running those centers, who’s the most important person here today? I never said, “me”. But I worked really hard to make everyone feel valued with a culture focused on team effort.
As an owner when you get immersed in your business. It’s often very easy to focus on what you need on a daily basis: tasks, financials, maximize profit, etc. Do whatever it takes to make the business run, but don’t lose sight of the people that create the customer experience. These employees make a difference, turning a one-time customer into a repeat customer. That is where you’re going to get a really valuable outcome for you and for your business.
Stay Humble – Value Everyone
Corporate culture is extremely important and as management or as an owner, you need to foster that in your organization. Make people feel valued and part of something bigger than just themselves. From that you’ll get tremendous benefit. And also remind yourself to stay humble and value everyone from the highest level to the lowest level employees. Everyone in one way or another can impact customer experience and business performance. Your employees are your most valuable assets on a daily basis, so make sure they understand that you appreciate their efforts.
I welcome the opportunity to learn more about how Inflection 360 can help your business thrive.
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