It is so often that we here the saying “the customer is always right.” This is customer service 101 for us. Having solid customer service is essential to business, and that is why many people believe that the customer should always come first. Except now there is a changing philosophy to this belief, and that is this:
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” -Richard Branson
The people that you put behind your business are not just essential to their job function, they are essential to your company as a whole. If you give your employees the right resources, training, and empowerment, you are setting up your company for success. Below are a few steps to take to ensure that your employees are number one in your company.
Listen to your employees
The first step to empowering your employees is to listen to them. There is no better way to understand what goes on in your company than hearing from the employees who work in every aspect from the initial sale to the finalized product on the line. By not just knowing the everyday processes of your employees, but from hearing from the employees themselves, you will know exactly how your facility really runs. This will make it that much easier to instill improvements.
Here at BUILT Systems, that is what our Kaizen practice is all about. Continuous improvement begins with hearing employees. Whether it is a high-level manager or a manufacturing team member, suggestions are heard from every single employee. Not only does this empower employees to think on their own, but encourages them to be innovative.
BUILT Systems prides itself on the continuous improvement that happens in the facility. There are idea cards placed around the facility for the team to write down their suggestion for an improvement. These are then collected up by one of the members of the corporate performance team. They review the idea card and meet with the employee who thought of the improvement. Once the needed details are collected and it has been decided to be a project, they turn that employee’s idea into reality. Just last week there was a team member from the powder coat team who thought of a way to reduce several types of waste by improving the communication between 1st shift and 3rd shift. This created improved inventory levels, less over-processing and less waiting and searching.
Learn from your employees
While this goes hand in hand with listening, it is important that you retain what your employees are telling you. The best way to learn is to surround yourself with smart people. By allowing yourself to hear from your employees, you will get a better understanding of the company as a whole, and may even pick up a few more skills of your own.
Everyone specializes in something. Chances are, even if you are a CEO of a fortune 500 company, you do not know everything that it takes to keep your company running successfully. Oftentimes it is the lower level employees, the ones who see the processes and products every day, who can be the most innovative.
If you allow yourself to learn from employees, you have the opportunity to learn about new and innovative ideas. Just take a look at what Google has created just from empowering their employees. Google Maps, Adsense, and even Gmail came from employee inventions. Not only this but by understanding who your employees are, you can create a sense of community among them. The workplace “should be a place of open communication and friendly atmosphere, and leaders can draw inspiration from the relationships coworkers create with each other.”
Your employees are the reason that your business exists. Without the skills of an engineer, the drive of a production employee, or the confidence of a salesperson, the company disappears. So why then do so many managers pay more attention to the customer than the employee?
It is so important that we recognize this. Employee appreciation has its downfalls. It is time-consuming in its planning and can be costly depending on the size of the company. But some companies have begun hiring individuals for just that. Companies like Marriot, who specializes in customer service, has individual employees that are solely in charge of employee appreciation efforts. The company even designates a whole week for employee appreciation – and it shows. “The company has been on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list all 18 years of the list’s existence, something only 11 other companies can say.”
While it is not expected that any company goes this in depth with employee appreciation, a little goes a long way. A simple acknowledgment from managers for good work goes a long way among employees. Qualtrics found that “Employees whose managers consistently acknowledge them for good work are 5x more likely to stay at the company, … though only approximately half of managers effectively accomplish [this].”
With these approaches, your employees will have all of the tools to have exceptional customer service. When employees are taken care of, you can rest assured that they will take the same care with their clients. Along with this, their organizational commitment will increase tenfold. By putting your employees first, you will be setting up your company for success.
“18 Employee Experience Stats to Know in 2019.” Qualtrics, 6 Feb. 2019, www.qualtrics.com/blog/employee-experience-stats/.
Lavoie, Andre. “5 Lessons a Boss Should Learn From Employees.” Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, 11 Nov. 2014, www.entrepreneur.com/article/239502.
“Why Employees Love Staying at Marriott.” Fortune, Fortune, fortune.com/2015/03/05/employees-loyalty-marriott/.