We often talk about client engagement and team engagement in isolation. And, in fairness, we’re likely to put team engagement on a long list of ‘to-dos’ for the future. The reality is that the two are mutually dependent.
I’ve been thinking more and more about team lately. I happen to have an awesome team and it’s growing. Just this week we announced the appointment of Mike Reynolds as a partner and President. Like many of you, we reached a turning point in our evolution. It’s the point at which you build the team and infrastructure you need to achieve your goals instead of doing so as a reaction to growth. But I digress.
The connection between client and team experience is supported by the research of John H. Fleming and Jim Asplund. They are both chief scientists with Gallup and are, jointly, the authors of Human Sigma. In that book they explore the connection between client and team engagement. It’s well worth a read.
Based on extensive research they conclude that the team experience and client experience cannot be managed in isolation because creating value is based on the interaction between the employee and the client. It’s a big topic, but for today I wanted to share two examples of firms that have implemented simple strategies that support team and client engagement equally and at the same time.
#1 Taking the Lead from Zappos
Zappos sells shoes but is renowned for its customer service. Tony Hsieh, the company’s founder, has become one of the leading voices in what it means to deliver an outstanding client experience. Barry Glassman, CEO of Glassman Wealth, shared a story, in a blog post he wrote some time ago, of how he used Zappos to help his team align around a clear definition of extraordinary service.
To start, Barry asked each of his employees to order two pairs of shoes via Zappos. (Now this is my kind of research; it involved shoes and cost less than $1,000.) He then asked each team member to return one pair of shoes, leaving the first as a gift for the employee. At that point the team got together and shared their experiences, of both the purchase and of having to make a return. I imagine they discussed the process, the interface, the connection with customer service. More important, they would have discussed how they felt at each stage, what made an impact and what made this experience different from other experiences. It’s a perfect example of saying thanks to your team (the shoes) and using that process to help design a better client experience by bringing it to life.
#2 Taking the Lead from Great Hotels
Ritz-Carlton is one of the most recognizable names when it comes to the client experience. In fact, they are so closely connected with great service that they have developed training programs that teach people across industries how to deliver a Ritz-Carlton standard of service. Four Seasons. of course, is equally great at what it does.
Fritz Brauner is the president of The Brauner Company and he has also helped his team truly experience what a great client experience really feels like. Here’s what he shared with me: “Once a year we take our team on a field trip to the Palo Alto Four Seasons for lunch. The purpose is for them to see what exceptional service feels and looks like and, of course, to say thanks for everything they do.” Back at the office, he told me, he asks each team member what he or she noticed, what stood out, and how that might impact their own client experience. “Even something as simple as greeting people with ‘Welcome to the Four Seasons’,” he said, “has been incorporated by greeting clients when they come into our office with ‘Welcome to The Brauner Company.’ ” A small thing but everything counts.
The obvious benefit of this approach – whether it’s Zappos or Four Seasons or some other great firm – is the active involvement of the team. By engaging in this kind of collaborative learning activity, you create a shared experience and, in the process, you create buy-in, pride, ownership and commitment.
Driving team engagement can feel like a big topic and a daunting task. These examples provide insight into a quick and easy way to make a difference.
Thanks for stopping by,