Driving Customer Loyalty Through Employee Engagement

Practical advice to ensure front line employees see the value of their role in driving customer loyalty

Successful customer loyalty is driven through employees on the front lines

For brands in a service-oriented industry that have or are considering a customer loyalty program, it is critical to prepare and engage your front line employees both early and throughout the program’s lifetime. However, chances are you will underestimate the importance of the role the front line employees have in delivering the program’s experience and ultimately the program’s success. So, just why might this happen? Consider the following:

  • The brand’s goals and employee goals are not necessarily aligned – 70% of U.S. workers report not being engaged at work and 51% are actively looking for a new job.1 Trying to get them to fully embrace and deliver your organization’s loyalty program will be tough when they are preoccupied with leaving.  
  • They have your customer engagement in their hands – Service failure at the front line has a proven negative impact on customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction has a direct correlation to customer engagement, the impetus of any loyalty initiative.2

Engaging and motivating your employees

How then can you engage employees and get them to fully embrace your loyalty vision? The first step is to understand what motivates employees at their core and understanding, of course, that each employee is as unique as every customer. A few ways to cover your bases:

  • Share your mission Take Gallup’s proven philosophy for mission-driven employee engagement,3 which they’ve shown is required to be truly successful. Your employees need to understand the loyalty program’s mission and purpose in order for them to deliver the intended customer experience. They need to understand why what they are doing in their role, whether it be enrollment of a new member, delivering a benefit or recognizing their membership, is important. Just as important is how they can do it and why it will add value to both them and the customer. And they need to understand that what they are doing is part of something bigger. Empowering them to help reach your goals will prove to be a win-win for you both.
  • Set achievement goals Align individual economic interests with company or program performance. This is the first step in Forbes’ “5 Easy Ways to Motivate Employees.”4
  • Recognize employees (out loud) Recognizing employees for their efforts in helping to achieve loyalty goals will have a positive impact for your customers and employees. Celebrating employee accomplishments with their peer groups will also help drive the engagement of that group.
  • Let them experience the program as a customer Allowing your employees to engage in or experience some facets of your program will allow them to personally see the value. In doing so, they will have a personal experience to share with prospective customers while creating an easy and genuine way to sell your program. As stated by leadership coach and former Inc. 500 CEO Alden Mills, a former Navy SEAL: “truly great companies treat their employees like they treat their customers.”
  • Keep them informed like a key stakeholder – Recognizing individual employee contributions is important, but equally so is sharing the performance overall. Employees want to know that their individual contributions are making a difference and that the organization values them.

Note that while engaging your employees, it is also important to implement strategies to reduce potential risks like employee fraud. Ensure adherence to organizational rules and be mindful of local regulations or restrictions for incentivizing or compensating employees. Striking a balance between these obstacles and bringing forward the level of transparency outlined above is feasible with a little attention and planning.

Finally, remember when planning your loyalty program or next loyalty enhancement to prepare and engage your front line employees as they hold a major key to your success. After all, they are at the heart of your program experience.

1 https://news.gallup.com/poll/180404/gallup-daily-employee-engagement.aspx
2 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1138144214000060
3 https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236279/three-ways-mission-driven-workplaces-perform-better.aspx
4 https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/03/18/5-easy-ways-to-motivate-and-demotivate-employees/#24491d7849ff)