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Why Your Customers Want You to Take Employee Engagement Seriously


How often has this happened to you? You get excited about a new service and sign a payment agreement, but within a few months find yourself looking for ways to get out of it.

You see, there’s this pretty amazing gym near my house. The monthly fee is significantly higher than others in the area, but the trainers have always made it worth it. (Have you ever been excited to get in a workout? That’s what it was like.)

But then the facility was acquired. And over time, things started to change. I don’t have the details on what happened behind the scenes, but as a once-loyal customer, what I do know is this:

My favorite trainers are starting to leave.

First, one quit. Then another. By the time the third announced she was on her way out the door, I decided it was time for me to go, too. I’ll soon be joining dozens of fellow members to follow our favorite staffers to their new places of employment.

This kind of thing happens all the time.

It occurs when a company fails to recognize the bottom-line benefits of prioritizing employee engagement. Why? Because customers know when they’re benefiting from a strong people-first culture—and they’ll bail out when they’re not.

Your customers value employee engagement. Do you?

Still not convinced? Take a look at these recent findings:

When you focus first on your employees, everyone benefits. It’s a simple concept, but one that can be easy to overlook.

3 common mistakes that cause disengagement

While employees often bear the brunt of negative customer feedback, many of those poor experiences can be traced back to company policies. This is frequently the case when an organization fails to address critical components of engagement.

Failing to address engagement by location

In the case of my local gym, the facility itself is one of several in a regional network. When employees are distributed across multiple locations in this way, it can be easy to forget that what works well for employees at one branch may differ from what’s best for those at another.

To see what I mean, consider what Steel Encounters did to turn things around.

With offices spanning four cities, many of the commercial contracting company’s employees were often out of sight. It wasn’t until the organization started gathering candid employee feedback that leadership discovered issues related to trust at one of its key locations. The company was then able to identify and fix the issue before it blossomed into bigger problems that would impact customer retention.

Today, Steel Encounters operates with a stronger understanding of how each location has its own unique culture with “different leadership, different personalities, and different needs,” according to President Tom Jackson.

Failing to get rid of bureaucracy

When workers feel strongly enough about your company’s mission that they live it out—and don’t sit idly by watching it die on the vine of bureaucracy—great things can happen.

As anyone who’s ever experienced Ritz Carlton’s famous $2,000 rule will tell you, this is especially true when it comes to solving customer problems. Employees at the luxury hotel chain are permitted to spend up to $2,000 per incident to solve customer problems before calling on a manager.

Talk about a great way to use employee engagement to drive customer loyalty!

You don’t need to have a Ritz budget to make this concept work. There are plenty of other ways to empower employees. For example, consider the disgruntled customer whose issue is not only unresolved but left unaddressed altogether:

Now compare that experience to what a Southwest Airlines employee did for a passenger whose WiFi wasn’t working during a crucial March Madness game. First came the customer’s tweet and a prompt reply from the company:

Then came a follow up request:


There’s no way a guy named Mike could use the airline’s official Twitter account to provide live updates on a basketball game, right? Wrong! He spent the majority of the second half watching the game and delivering ongoing updates to the customer.

There was no vetting things through a chain of command. No wondering what the airline would want him to do. Mike was able to immediately take matters into his own hands. As a result, he attracted even more customers and loyalty through the wealth of positive news coverage it generated.

Failing to solicit (and use) feedback

High-skilled workers tend to have great ideas, but you won’t reap the benefits until they feel comfortable sharing and acting on them.

That’s why it pays to ensure your frontline employees—the ones who know and take care of your customers—are heard. By asking for ideas and putting them into action, you’ll ensure your customers are getting exactly what they need to stay happy and remain loyal.

The methods for achieving this can vary. You might start with one-on-one meetings and transition to quarterly employee engagement surveys. Whatever you choose to use, the goal is the same: Give your employees a voice and make sure it’s heard.

Wondering what else you can do to drive customer loyalty through employee engagement?

We boiled down the data from 12,000 workers across a range of industries and locations into easy-to-digest insights. You can see them all in our latest employee engagement trends report and get actionable ideas to apply within your own workforce.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have a gym contract to cancel …

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