For many small businesses customer retention is all about external customers the ones who generate revenue from which bills are paid including salaries. Now forward thinking small business leaders understand employee loyalty is truly the secret to external customer retention.
As the old expression goes when Mama is happy, everyone is happy. Employees are truly the mothers in any business. Depending upon their roles and job descriptions at any moment of the day they are:
- Watching over others
- Monitoring progress
- Providing feedback
- Communicating the dos and don’ts
- Ensuring the family unit is intact
One of the not so small businesses, Southwest Airlines, understands the importance of employee loyalty. Their entire business plan revolves around the employees who then engage in those moments of truth with the external customers. This approach has increased customer retention for Southwest Airlines.
What organization will retain customers where the employees are rude, cranky, disrespectful or disinterested especially when facing customer complaints?
To create internal loyal customers requires uniting systems or processes; strategies and people.
Systems or processes comprise the ongoing continuous improvement actions such as lean, Six Sigma or Baldrige. Additionally, team building and a customer focus is also included within this area.
Strategy returns to the strategic planning where vision, mission and values are defined not only for the entire organization, but for major departments as well.
People area speaks to the management and development of all people through leadership skills, attitudes and behaviors, interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills and the execution of business plans to department initiatives.
When this three prong approach is undertaken and executed well, then loyal employees (internal customers) are created. This approach also supports the development of a high performance culture because everything is working together in alignment.
Seeking customer retention begins from within just like any other sustainable change process. Once all employees are united and behind the executive leadership and truly believe the organization is 100% focused on the employees who create those moments of truth for the customers, the results will not only be customer retention, but higher profitability, increased innovation and decreased costs including the very expensive one of employee turnover.
Chief Results Officer
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