Being a member of Executives Forum you would know employee job satisfaction is one of the key goals of all successful companies. Happy employees are more loyal to the company and its vision. They go the extra mile to achieve company goals.
Dissatisfied workers experience lower productivity in the workplace, poorer performance, more job stress, and higher turnover rates. Moreover, low job satisfaction can result in low morale and low loyalty to the company itself and to any outside Executives Forum.
Job satisfaction is defined as the extent to which employees feel self-motivated and satisfied with their job. Employee satisfaction covers the basic concerns and needs of employees, and is essential to the success of any business. Job satisfaction is a combination of intrinsic (kind of work) and extrinsic (working condition) factors. Salary, promotion, work-life balance, recognition and appraisals are important factors to be considered in employee satisfaction.
Make strategic decisions to create a culture of engagement and satisfaction. Engaged employees have a strong sense of purpose and leadership. They add value by pushing limits, driving growth and innovation. Employee satisfaction is one of the key metric that can help determine overall health of an organization, which is why many organizations employ regular surveys to measure and track employee satisfaction over time. As a Executives Forum you would understand that this is one way to assess whether your team is happy and engaged at work. It is critical for employee retention. Sadly, CulturalManagement has observed that this has decreased significantly over the past twenty years.
At CulturalManagement we guide you on how to easily collect and understand employee feedback to create an action plan that works. Few ways a company can improve employee job satisfaction:
- Provide a positive working environment.
- Rewards and recognition.
- Make work-life balance a priority.
- Develop skills and potential of workforce.
- Create open and honest communication channels.
The absolute most important aspect of customer retention is culture. Culture is the way things are thought about, talked about, and done. If TRUST is the basis for any long-term relationship, then a culture of trust is essential to customer retention. Two great examples are Kimpton - a boutique hotel chain, and Cisco Systems.
Kimpton has been named the number one place to work in 9 of the 17 cities where it operates. Market Metrix Hospitality Index or MMHI, has awarded top scores to Kimpton over the past few years - their scored have exceeded not only their direct competitors - but also brands such as Ritz Carlton, St Regis, and Four Seasons. Kimpton has achieved this because of their strong customer-centric culture of really knowing their customers, anticipating customers' needs with great precision, and empowering employees to meet customer expectations.
Another good example of customer-centric culture is Cisco Systems. They are proactive about solutions for every stage of the customer's lifecycle, and on their basic product web pages you can readily find contact information for customer service and tech support ... whereas many companies require customers to go through many clicks to get their contact information. Cisco has made a concerted effort to maximize their customer self-service features, so that their agents can focus on more high-value assistance, from the customers' perspective.
Walking the Talk
How many companies walk the talk by assigning an executive sponsor to customer retention? At Symantec, the Vice President of Customer Experience posts the results of their latest feedback from customers, as well as what they're doing to address that feedback. This can be one of the most powerful ways to keep your customers talking to you. Show that you really read and digest their feedback, and show that you have followed their advice in making improvements.
By closing the loop with customers, you can re-set their perceptions, so they don't feel compelled to carry around negative baggage of past experiences. They can re-set their perceptions to better meet your current realities of improved policies, business processes, and customer experiences.
Symantec takes this a step further with a feedback form on their website - enabling anyone anytime to either vent their frustrations or express appreciation for a job well done.
Two-way conversation on Twitter is best illustrated by Comcast - Frank Eliason's is director of digital care at Comcast and his profile includes his personal website and blog - as he sees customer frustrations expressed, he reaches out to them to find solutions, and in the process, many disillusioned customers have migrated to fans not only of Comcast, but to a friendship with Frank.
Going Beyond the Surface
Over-focus on customer acquisition teaches customers to switch brands. For example, the brand switching rate, called customer churn, is 40% for the mobile phone industry, compared to a 7% customer churn rate for the insurance and financial services industries. Some good advice is to quit training your customers to switch - get off the churn bandwagon.
Let's take a look at a mobile phone company that has pursued a customer retention strategy whereas its peers in the industry were focused primarily on customer acquisition. The mobile phone company Orange is owned by France Telecom, and it's a great example of departing from industry norms with a unique experiment on customer service as a brand differentiator - somewhat similar to the Saturn brand of General Motors.
Orange has pursued a strategy of customer-centricity by investing heavily in their agents' knowledge, customer communication and responsiveness. Customer service agents take a 1-month course before interacting with customers, and for their first several weeks interfacing with customers, the work environment has a high ratio of supervisors.
This is accompanied by ongoing formal quality assurance with an emphasis on precision monitoring through speech analytics. The speech analytics tool has enabled Orange to identify at-risk customers, and these customers are reached out to within 24 hours, to turn around their sentiment about the brand, and migrate them from at-risk status toward satisfied status.
80% of the customers identified as at-risk through the speech analytics were not picked up as at-risk through the agents nor other methods. The results are 20% improvement in 1st call resolution, 15% reduction in repeat calls, and 20% increase in satisfaction with customer service.
Trust is the Foundation
The lesson here is that customer retention may be best supported by operational integrity. After all, when you think about your personal relationships as well as your business relationships, you tend to stick with the folks that are really good at showing they sincerely care about you, and doing what they say they're going to do.
It boils down to trust. When you dig down to the reasons why people leave a brand for a competitor's solution, it's not so much about the competitors' offers and brand affinity -- but, rather, the reasons people switch brands is much more about product, service and value disappointments. Companies make huge investments in communicating their value proposition. Logic says a corresponding investment - at least in energy and scrutiny - should be made in making sure their value proposition is lived up to. TRUST is the best way to retain customers.
Look at how times have changed. There was a time when the purpose of having a contract between vendor and a vendee was simply to establish the terms of their relationship and the manner by which prospective business relationship is to be conducted. Remember the old days of a deal with just a handshake? How about "my word is my bond"? Those days are long gone and one must protect the company from any shady deals.
As soon as the terms of the contract are spelled out which are simple, concise and straightforward, you are ready to affix your signature and seal the agreement. That is basically contract management in a nutshell.
However, if you are talking of software license agreements, things will be quite different from your conventional contracts and the application of the principles related to vendor management will have a different complexion. If you are availing of one of these software packages which are governed by license agreements then it is essential that you spend a moment to study the fine prints of the terms and conditions as it is important that you understand every detail of its provision. This is how the principles of contract management are applied under agreements involving the purchase of software packages.
An effective contract management involving software packages will require you to focus on the prices and other legal provisions that are included in the agreement. The price is usually cited in the legal disclaimers about system performance and quality. This section of the contract is an essential component and it is important that you analyze if you are satisfied would this kind of relationship as what is indicated is what you will receive and nothing more. In your approach for relevant principles and techniques of vendor management, it is important that you are aware of what the vendor commits to provide you and the legal remedies available to you in case of disputes and disagreements.
It is imperative that you consider all provisions including those outside the contract price and major legal issues. If you feel that the contract presented by a vendor seems to be disadvantageous or deficient in substance in protecting your interest, the problem is not in the contract. There are some things that you might have missed during the negotiation that preceded the contract. Most of us have the tendency of focusing our attention on the more obvious aspects of the transaction and leave everything to the lawyer. In the end, we find ourselves with a contract which does not meet our expectation. In most cases, what we have as a contract is deficient or lacking in provisions on compliance to schedule, performance of the vendor and cost control.
So, what are the important things that you have to tackle in a negotiation? Obviously, you will have to agree on the contract price of the software package. Over and beyond the price consideration and other related issues, you have to focus extensively on the functionality and support services that you want the vendor to provide under the proposed agreement. You should remember that what is being sold is a collection of ideas and not a tangible and physical product. Its importance is determined by product's ability in providing the functionality that you need within a specified time frame and with the level of quality that you can not achieve using your existing manpower and capabilities.