A little less like a customer, a little more like a friend. A new study by Bersin & Associates shows that showing appreciation to customer and employees—making a human connection instead of just a commercial connection, basically—improves the bottom line.
Companies that are “high-recognition” dramatically outperform those that don’t in a wide range of business outcomes, the study finds. Companies that show meaningful recognition generate more than 12 times as much business in a variety of measures, and they have more than 30 percent less voluntary turnover.
“Reducing voluntary turnover by more than 30 percent is worth millions to any company,” wrote Josh Bersin for Forbes.
Bersin pointed out that how recognition is given matters, though. “The employee recognition industry is an old market, focused heavily on rewarding employees for tenure and service. Such programs, while prevalent in more than 70 percent of companies, drive little actual business value,” he wrote. “What these high-performing companies do is different.”
What such companies do differently is collect feedback from colleagues and not just managers. They directly connect recognition to business goals, reinforcing strategy. And, they give employees open and transparent access to the program so everyone knows who is recognized and why.
“We have found that defining a successful customer or employee experience comes hand in hand with showing consistent gratitude to both parties,” agreed Lisa Bonanno, director of corporate marketing for The Angel Voice.
“Businesses, especially retail, can benefit by creating a ‘thanking experience’ to show customers how much they appreciate their support,” she wrote. “This does not have to be a huge expense on the business’ part, but can be as small as a discount on the customers’ birthday.”
Three ways to show appreciation include personalization, proactively communicating and giving back, suggested Bonanno.
“Although we’re living in a digital age, hand-written thank you notes still make a significant difference,” she wrote. “Zappos, an online retail site, has been known to send personalized thank you notes to customers who call their customer service department. This added touch from a large company like Zappos shows the company is focused on putting the customer first and helps reinforce a quality customer experience.”
Proactively communicating is recognition technique every company should think about employing. A simple holiday message can go a long way, Bonanno wrote. This can be through email, text or phone. The point is to reach out, not just respond.
Third, Bonanno suggested giving back as a sign of thanks.
“At Angel, she wrote, they “heard from our employees and how they too wanted to get more involved with our local community. This holiday season, we are leveraging our Outbound and Inbound IVR technology to design, build and deploy an application to support Our Neighbor’s Child, a non-profit, community-based organization, which began in 1992 by providing holiday gifts for children in low income families in western Fairfax County, VA.”
No matter how you do it, give thanks this holiday season. It not only humanizes work, it also is good for business.
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