Please, no, not another article on ‘Employee Engagement’ and how it impacts on ‘Customer Experience’.

Absolutely not! I am old enough to remember work before either expression became so common and overused. Anyway…

…I came across a man I hadn’t seen for around 15 years in a pub last week and said ‘I know you’. ‘David Marklew, Hi! I’m Paul, if you don’t remember my name – worked in the Games Department’ came the reply. We chatted for a while, usual stuff, ‘what are you doing now’, do you come here often’ etc. What came next surprised me a little. ‘I have really fond memories of working at HMV, in fact I can honestly say it was the most enjoyable period of work I have ever had. Naturally, as a game enthusiast, the product was interesting but what made it so special was the people – they were a great team of genuinely nice people.’

It set me thinking; Paul was right. It was one of those wonderful periods when the entire team clicked. Each team member had a passion for the product but they also had a passion for delivering great customer service and being the best in the industry. We were blissfully unaware that we were ‘highly engaged’ and delivering a ‘customer experience’. Our culture was built on customer service and we treated each other as customers – simple as that.

Customer service to us was far more than the smiley bit when someone pays. It was about anticipating needs and having what the customer wanted when they wanted it. It was about presentation, making it easy for people to navigate the thousands of lines. It was about speed, energy, rhythm and fun – we loved the product and wanted to share that passion. It was about respect for each other and respect for the wildly diverse tastes of our customers. It was about creating an offer (that’s what we called it back then) that would appeal to music, video and games lovers of all ages and delivering it with such aplomb that they would go home tell all their friends and family and they’d all be back for more next week. We figured it would be good for business even without the expert insight of Fred Reicheld and his Net Promoter Score.

We had a common goal – be the best. For a while, with that team, in that town, in that company, we were pretty damn close to achieving it, though I do know others that may agree to differ. Happy times and thanks Paul for reminding me.

Looking back at that situation many things had to come together to make it happen but the key that unlocked the door was Leadership.

We were led by a Managing Director who was passionate about the business and the service we provided. He saw us as his customers and created a Head Office environment that had a common goal – supporting stores. He was on our side and relentlessly pursued every opportunity help us be successful.

Above all, he knew that the people in the stores were the business and not just bodies put there to do the bidding of Head Office.

We worked our socks off for him and he did the same for us – but we still didn’t know we were being engaged.

When the right ingredients come together with the right people the results can be truly staggering. At that time, I know there were lots of other managers and store teams throughout the company feeling exactly the same as we did. We’re the best, we’re having fun, we’re successful, and we are probably the best record store in the business. Confidence didn’t seem to be an issue!

So what are the essentials?

  • Strong and highly visible leadership
  • Great people
  • A shared vision
  • A common goal
  • Clearly stated values
  • A culture of customer service

Oh…and don’t forget to mix in a few spices and some of your own brand secret ingredients…

Have fun, deliver clear, compelling communication, inspire involvement, empower and add a dash of our secret strength management sauce.

You choose how to cook this. If you have confidence in your management team and good quality ingredients you might decide to quickly pan fry. For tougher cuts I would recommend a slow pot roast. Truth is, I don’t care how you do it as long as you do it because it’s the right thing to do for your people, your customers and your business rather than because someone guru or think tank said so.

Employee engagement and customer experience, a classic combination that works every time.

I would love to hear your stories about what we now lovingly refer to as ‘engagement’ so please get in touch.

David MarklewDavid Marklew is a leading customer experience specialist with an impressive track record of driving lasting change. David is a Companion Member of the Institute of Customer Service and was a member of the judging panel at the recent prestigious 2014 Customer Satsifaction Awards.
Since 2009 David has successfully facilitated lasting change programmes across a variety of sectors including retail, leisure, and with BNP Paribas Real Estate where he is now embarking on his fourth assignment.
Prior to 2009 David held senior operations and customer experience roles with TK Maxx, HMV and Virgin.
David‘s operational background, passion for service and experience of working with major brands in high volume businesses ensures that strategic goals and service aspirations are grounded in reality. He knows instinctively what makes a difference to the customer and how to engage the management and front line in delivering the change.

Cultural change, strategy development and implementation, central operations, internal communication, project planning – all aspects of customer and employee engagement.

Areas of expertise:
Operations Management, internal communication, cross functional projects, retail best practice, customer and employee journey mapping, service measurement.

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