LearnShareProsper logo Boosting Business_Performance Adele Sommers
by Adele Sommers, Ph.D.
 www.LearnShareProsper.com Adele@LearnShareProsper.com 
In This Issue

May 2020
Volume 16, Issue 5

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Below find this month’s newsletter, hot off the press!

  • Feature Article: How “Engaged” Employees Can Turbocharge the Bottom Line

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Note from the Author

It’s Time to Aim Beyond Job Satisfaction

Arrow hitting a target that goes past "employee engagement"Whether you’re a member of a small, medium, or large organization, thinking through how to excite and engage your workforce is crucial for boosting productivity and profitability.

Especially today, as many businesses adjust to remote working conditions in a vastly different economic climate, employees who feel confident and empowered in their roles are more essential than ever. They’re the frontline agents helping to support legions of disoriented customers, many of whom are making unimaginable life adjustments.

Because employees represent one vital dimension of the playing field, and customers represent the other, there's a delicate dance going on. After all, “it takes two to tango,” and this tango has a special financial significance.

Here’s why: When both employees and customers interact in a balanced, highly energized way, your organization can enjoy unlimited earning potential. In fact, this potential is far greater than when only one group feels engaged, according to many years of research by The Gallup Organization.

For these reasons, I hope you enjoy today’s features, and please be sure to share your thoughts by leaving your comments on my Facebook page!

Here’s to your business prosperity,

Adele Sommers, Ph.D., business improvement specialist, author, educator, and award-winning instructional designer

P.S. If you missed any previous issue, please visit the newsletter archive!

Special Message

Is Your Organization There Yet?

Whether you’re in a large corporation or a small business startup, a few elusive questions you may be pondering are, “Are we there yet? Are our people happy and committed enough to stay, learn, and grow with us, while devoting 110% of their talents to our success? Are we creating conditions that help people feel valued and enable them to contribute proactively to our mission and goals?”

"The E-Myth Manager: Why Most Managers Aren't Effective and What to Do About It" by Michael E. GerberMichael E. Gerber offers timeless insights into this ongoing journey in “The E-Myth Manager: Why Most Managers Aren’t Effective and What to Do About It.” Gerber proposes a way to help organizations innovate, quantify, and orchestrate the results they wish to see, as follows:

  • Recognize that the enterprise as a whole carries the main responsibility for identifying the best way to solve problems and achieve desired results. (p. 130)
  • Give all employees a way to set their own benchmarks, personal and organizational, and then help them in every way possible to realize those benchmarks. (p. 132–33)
  • Encourage each person in the organization to think like an entrepreneur and operate like a personal revenue center. (p. 144)
  • Set unusual (but not unreasonable) expectations, such as asking all of the staff members to tell the truth as they see it regarding the organization, despite how difficult it may be because of prior upbringing and conditioning. (p. 202–04)

These snapshots of organizational culture suggest how to engage employees in the fundamental workings and the success of the enterprise. They imply a need for ongoing transparency, for leaders to model all of the behaviors they want to see, for pursuing continuous improvement across the organization, for observing cause and effect, for taking personal responsibility, and for measuring and monitoring results.

Read on for more perspectives on engaging employees...

Feature Article

How “Engaged Employees Can
Turbocharge the Bottom Line

by Adele Sommers

Excited employees jumping up and down
Do you want to thrill your customers or clients
and turn them into raving fans?

I’m sure you do, and so does every company! That’s why researchers at The Gallup Organization have long studied the powerful relationship between loyal, passionate, and deeply committed customers and a company’s bottom line.

What makes your most ardent customers so special? Gallup found that “highly satisfied” customers deliver 23% more profitability, revenue, and relationship growth than “satisfied” or “dissatisfied” customers do. And there are even more impressive findings when you examine the quality of the interactions between highly satisfied customers and an organization’s employees.

Why is this customer–employee interaction so vital? Gallup found that encounters between engaged employees and engaged customers contribute far more to a company’s financial success than either factor alone.

To test Gallup’s findings, ten companies followed a set of recommendations that Gallup derived from its data analysis. The result? Those companies outperformed their largest peers by 26% in gross margins and 85% in sales growth in one year!

But first, let’s explore what it means to offer praiseworthy products and services...

The Need to Eliminate Variability in Customer Experiences

Horse shoe missing a nail
Have you ever heard this familiar children’s saying?

“For want of a nail, a shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, a horse was lost; for want of a horse, a battle was lost; for want of a battle, a kingdom was lost

So states an underlying philosophy and related economic model that measures the losses to society due to poor or unpredictable product and service quality.

The farther products or services stray from perfection, the greater the negative impacts on society. Besides inconveniencing and aggravating customers and those around them, those negative impacts can ruin a company’s reputation and destroy its ability to stay in business.

Solving this problem entails finding ways to reduce and prevent variability in products and services, thereby producing consistently high quality. For example:

  • For products, reducing variation means ensuring that every item produced conforms as tightly as possible to the ideal, which is as close to perfection as attainable. To achieve this coveted status in the manufacturing arena, quality initiatives such as Six Sigma have helped companies realize extremely low reject rates (“zero defects,” in essence) by eliminating variability in systems and processes.
  • Engaged employee waiting on happy customerFor services, reducing variation means completely satisfying all advertised promises, and providing excellent customer care each and every time a customer interacts directly with an organization’s support hotline or other human-based services. Even one disappointing experience can ruin a customer’s trust, confidence, and loyalty to the company. (Many of us can relate to that feeling as consumers!)

So, in manufacturing, Six Sigma has helped pave the road to product excellence. But what exactly is the best way to offer consistently satisfying service experiences?

Good question. Gallup wanted to find out!

Another Way of Viewing Employee-Customer Interactions

To reveal the answers, Gallup researchers conducted studies over many years, and analyzed data on hundreds of companies and millions of customers and employees. They gained many eye-opening insights, some of which appear below.

Extremely happy male customerOne critical finding pertains to meeting customer expectations. When we think about satisfying customers, are we referring to rational or emotional satisfaction?

  • Rational satisfaction occurs from meeting the customer’s functional needs or specifications (what I call “quality in fact”).
  • Emotional satisfaction results whenever a customer enjoys consistently helpful encounters with a company’s employees. This ultimately creates a deep personal loyalty to the business (what I call “quality in perception”). According to Gallup, these customer bonds involve four levels of increasing attachment: confidence, integrity, pride, and passion.

These emotional aspects are so strong, they carry extraordinary weight in the customers’ experiences — “feelings are facts,” explains Gallup. The stronger the relationships they develop, the greater their levels of customer engagement.

Here’s the critical point: “engaged” customers have the greatest desire to do more business — in greater volume, with more transactions, and over a longer period of time than other types of customers.

How much more? In one study, Gallup found that the most “emotionally satisfied” (highly engaged) customers spent 184% more than (almost twice as much as) either the “rationally satisfied” or the “dissatisfied” customers. This shows why engaging customers emotionally is so essential!

Bottom Line: Engaging Customers Also Requires Engaged Employees

What engages customers the most, and how do we achieve it? Gallup found that:

It’s not simply rational, automated transactions that excite customers, as efficient and accurate as those transactions might be. (The rational aspects are necessary to satisfy customers, but not sufficient by themselves.) Rather, it’s the employees who create the relationships that customers crave. Gallup found that the long-term success of any type of service — from fashion to high tech — seems to depend on developing strong personal relationships. Below are the key points:

To help employees successfully engage customers, companies must allow them to express their uniqueness and creativity while satisfying the customers’ needs, rather than trying to script every single aspect of their interactions.

Employee-customer interaction matrix. Source: GallupEmployee-customer encounters are highly localized and can vary markedly from location to location within the same organization. Because of this variability, companies must measure and manage these encounters locally.

Managing customers and personnel typically occurs in different parts of an enterprise. To optimize their employee-customer encounters, companies might need to reorganize to shift both groups under the same management.

Gallup’s single HumanSigma metric quantifies and summarizes the value of optimizing employee-customer contacts within each business unit or group. The optimized business units enjoy overall improvement and growth at 3.4 times the rate of non-optimized units. (Click the diagram at right to enlarge it.)

In conclusion, Gallup’s research shows that carefully managed interactions between engaged customers and engaged employees are among the most powerful drivers and predictors of profitability. These interactions depend on fostering an environment where employees have the latitude to creatively serve customer needs while at the same time building satisfying, long-lasting, emotional relationships. You may want to keep this research in mind when looking for ways to boost your own organization’s success!

Copyright 2020 Adele Sommers

The Author Recommends

“Guide to Increasing Product & Service Value”

"Guide to Increasing Product & Service Value" by Adele SommersHave you been looking for ideas on how to design, develop, and test products and services that will turn your customers into raving fans? For example, are you mining the value in your customer database? Do you know how to increase the quality of your customers’ experiences to enhance and then cement your brand promise?

My award-winning Customer Success Kit addresses these and many other vital product and service topics. This report includes 49 pages of tips, best practices, checklists, and worksheets to help you produce superb offerings that your customers will love!

About the Author

"Straight Talk" Special Report
"Straight Talk" Workbook

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” — an award-winning Special Report and Workbook program.

If you liked today’s issue, you’ll love this down-to-earth overview of how 12 potent business-boosting strategies can reenergize the morale and productivity of your enterprise, tame unruly projects, and attract loyal, satisfied customers. It’s accompanied by a step-by-step workbook designed to help you easily create your own success action plan. Browse the table of contents and reader reviews on the description page.

Adele also offers no-cost articles and resources to help small businesses and large organizations accelerate productivity and increase profitability. Learn more at LearnShareProsper.com.

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