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How can companies keep a consistent
                             customer focus and optimize business
directly, actively involved in making this            Engagement seeks to quantify emotional and
happen. OK, this – what w...
Brand engagement is an extension of employee              satisfaction doesn’t mean that making
engagement. Much of brand ...
equation, linking employee attitudes and actions       Ambassadorship is very definitely linked to
to customer loyalty beh...
scale attitude statements (three in each of          low ambassadorship and high sabotage levels:
the legs). In addition, ...
These are definite ‘pay attention’ findings for        When asked if they ever say anything bad
HR. It’s a concern, of cou...
What actions should companies be taking with        sustaining cultures of employee ambassadorship.
insights such as these...
Eastman Kodak, in its employee ambassador           Again, ambassadorship is most successful when
initiative, has implemen...
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Employee Ambassadorship Ii White Paper Final


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Employee ambassadorship, or advocacy, goes beyond engagement to determine level of commitment to enterprise, value of products and services, and customers

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Employee Ambassadorship Ii White Paper Final

  1. 1. How can companies keep a consistent customer focus and optimize business performance, which, after all, is the goal of customer centricity? Is it done with great products and product co- creation with customers? Is it through customer segmentation based on detailed profiling and interpretation? Or is it through outstanding service and original, effective marketing? Few would argue that all of these are important, of course; but, at the vast majority of companies, sales, service, and marketing functions and activities tend to be discrete. And, discrete, siloed [ ] execution equals sub-optimized results. Employee Ambassadorship: Living the Promise of ‘Wow’ Customer Value Delivery By: Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC Senior Vice President and Senior Consultant, Harris Interactive Loyalty There are many ways to bring all of these individual, rarely conjoined functions and capabilities into unison, so that they are more effective on behalf of both the customer and the employee. Perhaps the simplest, and arguably the most sustainable and strategically differentiated, is to have employees
  2. 2. directly, actively involved in making this Engagement seeks to quantify emotional and happen. OK, this – what we call employee rational job satisfaction and motivation to think, ambassadorship - Is clearly a worthwhile goal, feel, and act. This combination is extremely with two key and immediate questions: 1) How important for training, communication, staff do you make this a reality, and 2) How do you management, and individual and group goal- measure the effectiveness of what you’re doing? setting. We’ll address the second question first, and then offer examples of what companies like Virgin, Engagement, however, represents a mélange of Eastman Kodak, Honeywell, Ford, NCR, ING, and loosely related concepts. In 2006, The Conference Hewlett-Packard are doing to create and sustain Board published “Employee Engagement, a culture of employee ambassadorship. A Review of Current Research and Its Implications”. According to this report, twelve A culture of customer ‘wow’ begins with major studies on employee engagement had employee job satisfaction... been published over the prior four years by top The history of companies measuring employee research firms. Each of the studies used different job satisfaction, and endeavoring to link definitions and, collectively, came up with 26 employee perceptions with customer behavior key drivers of engagement. For example, some goes back almost 100 years. Organizational studies emphasized the underlying cognitive surveys began during the 1920’s and 1930’s, a issues, others on the underlying emotional issues. result of emphasis on industrial engineering and time-and-motion studies which began at the The Conference Board looked across this dawn of the 20th century. compilation of data and constructed both a blended definition and key themes that crossed By the 1960’s and 1970’s, many companies all of the studies. They identify employee were conducting employee attitude and engagement as “a heightened emotional satisfaction studies; and these studies were connection that an employee feels for his or her further refined during the 1980’s and early organization, that influences him or her to exert 1990’s, focused as much on achieving quality as greater discretionary effort to his or her work”. on creating satisfied employees. Many of the studies agreed on eight key drivers. • Trust and integrity – How well managers enhanced through employee alignment communicate and ‘walk the talk’. with the company’s mission and brand • Nature of the job –Is it mentally stimulating promise... day-to-day? • Line of sight between employee performance In the mid-1990’s, more progressive companies and company performance – Do employees had moved on to employee engagement understand how their work contributes to research. This was a significant step for human the company’s performance? resources professionals. It was a recognition that • Career Growth opportunities –Are there companies needed to view employees not only future opportunities for growth? as a resource but as partners in helping reach • Pride about the company – How much self-esteem do the employees feel by being overall business goals. The principal intents of associated with their company? employee engagement, then, are to identify: • Coworkers/team members – Significantly • what originally drew individuals to the influence one’s level of engagement company, • Employee development – Is the company • what keeps them there, making an effort to develop the employee’s • what they see as their role and how involved skills? they are in it, and • Relationship with one’s manager – Does • how aligned they are with the company’s the employee value relationship(s) with goals and culture. manager(s)?
  3. 3. Brand engagement is an extension of employee satisfaction doesn’t mean that making engagement. Much of brand engagement is employees happier will lead to better managed through the marketing structure, customer experience. This is one of those and it involves the communication of company classic traps your college professors warned values, and product and service benefits, to you about: confusing correlation with current and potential customers, and to other causation. I’ve observed that this flaw in stakeholders. Some companies have recognized logic has led many organizations to invest that, to deliver the brand promise externally, in trying to make their employees happier in employees represent the biggest opportunity to the hope that those happier employees will arrive at that destination. Involving employees turn around and deliver a better experience more directly in brand-building has definite for customers. We’ve just seen too many advantages for HR, such as attracting and companies where, at best, more highly- retaining good employees, and creating a engaged employees simply deliver a sub-par stronger understanding of the company’s mission experience more enthusiastically.” and vision, which then combine to build a more cohesive and aligned work force. One of the shortfalls too often seen in engagement, particularly as this type of research Employees, whether they are customer facing or applies to optimizing customer experience, is not, need to ‘live’ the brand and company value that, even if employees are trained in brand promise as company representatives. Concepts image, this does not mean they will deliver and programs such as employee engagement and on the product or service value promise to brand engagement (through employees), though customers or other stakeholders. Image needs considerably more progressive than satisfaction, to be integrated with building a culture of true can be less than sufficient to help companies customer focus. In other words, the external optimize the customer experience or sustain brand promise has to be experienced by top-level customer value delivery. Employees may customers every time they interact with the believe they are doing valuable things for their company. company and/or they may have positive feelings about their jobs, their employers, and the brands ...and culminates in ambassadorship, where they represent; but, where is the specificity employees ‘live’ the brand promise, for around building the best customer experience themselves and for the benefit and loyalty and relationships? behavior of customers Can companies, through employee research, In its basic thesis, engagement loosely parallels learn how to prioritize initiatives which will “The Service Profit Chain”, a model developed generate optimum staff commitment to the by Heskett, Sasser, and Schlesinger 1 in the company, to the brand value promise, and to the ‘90’s. The model is generally summarized as customers? happy employees = happy customers = happy shareholders. In other words, at the core of If employee satisfaction and employee engagement is the tacit belief that there is a engagement aren’t specifically designed to meet direct relationship or linkage between higher this critical objective, and only tangentially employee satisfaction and customer experience. correlate with customer behavior, can a single And, as found by noted customer experience technique provide the means to do that? The expert Frank Capek, though elevated levels of answer to both questions is: Yes, through customer service, and also increased profitability, employee ambassadorship research. Employee may result from enhanced employee engagement ambassadorship has been specifically designed “…just because employee satisfaction and to both build on employee satisfaction and engagement are correlated with customer engagement and bring the customer into the
  4. 4. equation, linking employee attitudes and actions Ambassadorship is very definitely linked to to customer loyalty behavior. the productivity and empowerment elements of employee satisfaction, engagement, and Employee ambassadorship, or employee brand alignment research; however, it more closely ambassadorship, has direct connections to – yet parallels achievement of business results and is distinctive from – both employee satisfaction value-building because its emphasis is on and employee engagement. As a research strengthening customer bonds through direct framework, its overarching objective is to identify and indirect employee interaction. the most active and positive (and inactive and negative) level of employee commitment to the Note: Recognizing that some companies are company’s product and service value promise, still focused on alignment and engagement, and to the company itself, and to optimizing the also that there are many ways in which it can customer experience. be expressed through employee research, we define Employee Engagement as encompassing The ambassadorship thesis, with its component two of the three components of our definition elements, can be displayed as follows: of Ambassadorship. These are: Commitment to Company and Commitment to Value Proposition. Operationally, these are addressed Employees that score high on Commitment in surveys through six of the nine proprietary to company, the value proposition, and the questions we use in Ambassadorship. customer, are considered Amabassadors Harris Interactive Loyalty’s original approach was developed and tested during 2006. The Value framework proved very successful for clients Company Proposition in multiple industries; and they have found the results both insightful and highly useful Ambassador in prioritizing their employee training and communication around the customer. More recently, a team of Loyalty consultants and methodologists conducted exhaustive qualitative and quantitative new baseline research to further refine the ambassadorship technique and Customer make it even more contemporary and actionable for clients. • Commitment to company – Commitment to, and being positive about, the company (through Early in 2008, Harris Interactive Loyalty personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and an conducted research through the Harris Poll expression of pride), and to being a contributing, among 4,300 adults who are employed full time. loyal, and fully aligned, member of the culture Sample size was sufficient to provide baseline • Commitment to value proposition – Commitment to, and alignment with, the mission results in close to twenty major business and and goals of the company, as expressed through industry areas. perceived excellence (benefits and solutions) provided by products and/or services The questionnaire utilized for this study • Commitment to customers – Commitment was constructed based on both the earlier to understanding customer needs, and to performing in a manner which provides ambassadorship research protocol and insights customers with optimal experiences and from the qualitative research. The ‘three legs’ of relationships, as well as delivering the highest the ambassadorship research stool, identified level of product and/or service value above, are measured by nine agree/disagree
  5. 5. scale attitude statements (three in each of low ambassadorship and high sabotage levels: the legs). In addition, a number of loyalty and • Telecommunications, advocacy (positive and negative communication) • Retail Trade, Manufacturing, metrics were used to help validate the new • Transportation and Warehousing, and ambassadorship framework. • Accommodation and Food Services. We most typically concentrate on what It’s interesting and instructive to note that, drives active, positive, vocal commitment, i.e. especially in telecom, retail, lodging and food ambassadorship; however, it is at least equally services, these are some of the industries so important to identify where employee indifference often featured in business studies, and trade and negativism, potentially leading to sabotage stories and articles, as representing the poorest attitudes and actions, exist, why they exist, and reported customer experiences and highest levels how they can be mitigated or eliminated. If of service complaint. employee ambassadorship is the North Pole, then sabotage is the South Pole. Ambassadorship research key findings In addition to employee motivation, cohesion, Overall Employee Ambassadorship baseline productivity and alignment with corporate values study results and culture, Human Resources is perhaps About 15.5% of adults, employed full-time most interested and focused on learning how to and working for a company, were identified increase staff loyalty. Our research identifies through the framework as Ambassadors. At employee loyalty level through three specific the opposite end of the commitment spectrum, metrics: rating of the organization as a place to those employees we identify as Saboteurs, about work, likelihood to recommend the organization 29.5% qualified by their answers to be in this to friends or family members as a place to group. As ambassadors are beneficial, saboteurs work, and level of felt loyalty to the organization. and sabotage levels are of particular concern Overall, 18% of our respondents exhibited to organizations because of their ‘bad apple’ high loyalty to their organizations, and 20% potential impact on productivity and morale of exhibited low loyalty; and, importantly, there other employees, and behavior of customers. were strong, almost polar opposite differences in organizational loyalty depending on whether an These typical results for ambassadorship and employee was categorized as an ambassador or sabotage levels were found in several industries: saboteur, validating ambassadorship framework results: • Education • Healthcare and Social Assistance • Technology Services • Banking and Finance Employee Loyalty* by Ambassador Group • Engineering Services • Insurance Total Ambassador Saboteur Also, some, industry groups had very high Low 19.8% 0.0% 61.0% ambassadorship levels, coupled with low Medium 61.9% 27.3% 38.5% sabotage levels: High 18.3% 72.7% 0.5% • Religious and Non-Profit organizations, Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% • Construction, and *Comprised of the three metrics used to calculate • Legal Services. employee loyalty Conversely, there were industry groups with very
  6. 6. These are definite ‘pay attention’ findings for When asked if they ever say anything bad HR. It’s a concern, of course, that almost 20% about the company as a place to work, almost of employees have low organizational loyalty; none of the ambassadors (1.9%) were frequent however, it’s an even greater challenge that there or occasional negative communicators in this is three times the level of potential staff turnover regard. However, saboteurs were 26 times more among saboteurs, who, before they depart, will likely to communicate to others in negative ways, undermine the performance and loyalty of other either frequently or occasionally (49.4%). It’s employees. Our research provides very specific clear that this kind of attitude and behavior can insights into why this is occurring. At the same have significant impact on attracting the best time, the organization will be very well-served employees, keeping them, and having them be to emulate the behaviors and attitudes of focused on customers. ambassadors through the rest of the culture. The third principal component of Commitment to the company, in the form of ambassadorship is representing the company’s loyalty and related attitudes and behaviors, products and services, i.e. its brand promise, is a fairly basic requirement for employee to others, both inside and outside of the ambassadorship. As important is feeling that organization. Similar to their responses the company is a good place to work, and regarding the company as a place of employment, that its products and services are good, and the disparity in saying good things about the communicating this belief to others, including company’s products and services between colleagues, friends, and customers. ambassadors and saboteurs was dramatic: over 20 times more ambassadors always or Similar to overall employee loyalty findings, almost always said positive things compared to ambassadors were found to be both positive saboteurs (78.3% vs. 3.7%). and vocal promoters and representatives of the company as a place to work, while most saboteurs never, or at least less frequently, Frequency of Saying Company’s Products/ said anything good about the company as an Services are Good employer. In terms of the highest frequency of saying positive things about the company as a Total Ambassador Saboteur place to be employed, ambassadors were over Rarely/Never 18.1% 1.6% 45.0% 40 times more likely to do this than saboteurs Sometimes/ (85.7% compared to 2.1%). 54.1% 20.1% 50.3% Often Almost Always/ 27.8% 78.3% 3.7% Always Frequency of Saying Company is a Good Place Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% to be Employed Total Ambassador Saboteur Rarely/Never 20.4% 0.9% 55.5% Saying negative things about the company’s Sometimes/ products or services was also significantly 49.6% 13.4% 42.4% Often more prevalent among soboteurs. Over 45% of Almost employee saboteurs said negative things about Always/ 30.0% 85.7% 2.1% Always products or services at least some of the time, Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% compared to only 2.6% of ambassadors. Again, companies need to focus on the multi-layered consequences of such results.
  7. 7. What actions should companies be taking with sustaining cultures of employee ambassadorship. insights such as these? Here are several; Hewlett-Packard, for example, has a program • Employees, at all levels and in all functions need to have a thorough understanding of called ‘Demo Days’. All employees, those what’s important to customers so that their currently working for HP and also retired actions match customer expectations and employees and irrespective of function or level requirements within the organization, volunteer and are • Employees’ behavior needs to be aligned trained to spend days at local electronic retail around customer experiences stores, as brand ambassadors for the company, • Management must build processes, technology, training, and organizational/ interacting with potential customers. HP does cultural practices that support employees this several times a year, and it helps the being able to optimize customer experience organization build greater customer centricity into the culture. Perhaps most of all, companies should evaluate the effectiveness of rules and metrics associated At Zappos, the highly successful online footwear with delivering customer value. For instance, and clothing retailer, there’s a strong belief that how effective is the company, and employees, ‘your culture is your brand.’ During the hiring at unearthing and resolving unexpressed process, prospective employees, however talented complaints which may be undermining customer and experienced, must fit into the culture. loyalty? How are non-financial metrics viewed Following hiring, all employees – regardless relative to financial ones? What types of of function or title – are trained in customer automated support processes exist, and how loyalty, service, and company values and vision well are employees trained in them, to make over a four-week period. Two of those weeks are serving customers easier? How does the company spent are spent on the phone taking calls from balance taking care of existing customers, customers. particularly those who may be at risk of defection, with acquiring new ones? How much Zappos has defined its company culture in terms cross-functional collaboration exists in support of 10 core values, the first of which is “Deliver of the customer? WOW Through Service”. As explained by CEO, Tony Hsieh: For companies to create and sustain higher levels of employee ambassadorship, it’s necessary “Every employee can affect your company’s to have customer and employee intelligence brand, not just the front line employees that specifically designed to close gaps between are paid to talk to your customers. It can be customer experience, outmoded internal beliefs, a positive influence, or a negative influence. and rudimentary support and training. It’s also We decided a long time ago that we didn’t essential that the employee experience be given want our brand to be just about shoes, or as much emphasis as the customer experience. clothing, or even online retailing. We decided If ambassadorship is to flourish, there must be that we wanted to build our brand to be value, and a sense of shared purpose, for the about the very best customer service and the employee as well as the company and customer – very best customer experience. We believe in the form of recognition, reward (financial and that customer service shouldn’t be just a training), and career opportunities. department, it should be the entire company. Our belief is that if you get the culture right, Examples of Employee Ambassadorship at work most of the other stuff – like great customer As cited at the outset, companies like Virgin, service, or building a great long-term brand, Eastman Kodak, Honeywell, NCR, ING, and or passionate employees and customers – Hewlett-Packard are actively creating and will happen naturally on its own.”
  8. 8. Eastman Kodak, in its employee ambassador Again, ambassadorship is most successful when initiative, has implemented a program called employees are recognized and appreciated, and FAST, which stands for Focus, Accountability, can participate in the benefit and value they Simplicity and Trust. The objective is to drive provide to customers. Hal Rosenbluth, former sustainable, profitable growth by requiring CEO of the highly successful, multi-billion employees to treat everyone – internal and dollar travel management company, Rosenbluth external – as a customer. International (which is now part of American Express Travel Related Services), said in his High-tech company NCR (Note: Full disclosure – book, The Customer Comes Second: NCR is a Harris interactive employee ambassadorship research client) has created an “We’re talking about a change that puts the ambassadorship program, which is open to all people in organizations above everything employees. Its objectives are to drive customer else. They are cared for, valued, empowered, loyalty and advocacy, and enhanced company and motivated to care for their clients. When culture, for employees who are both customer- a company puts its people first, the results facing and non-customer facing. Employees are are spectacular. Their people are inspired recruited to be trained in customer interaction to provide a level of service that truly comes soft skills, NCR overall company and brand from the heart. It can’t be faked. Companies information. Ambassadors have enhanced are only fooling themselves when they access to co company information, participate believe that ‘The Customer Comes First.’ in a special reward and recognition program for People do not inherently put the customer ‘above and beyond’ contributions, and engage first, and they certainly don’t do it because in public relations, marketing, and community their employer expects it. We’re not saying events. Importantly, they also help build choose your people over your customers. credibility for the company’s commitment to We’re saying focus on your people because of employees by reporting back on their experiences your customers. That way, everybody wins.” as ambassadors. Whether an organization is a major international Summing up; What’s the value of ambassadorship corporation, or a small, embryonic start- for the company, the customer and the employee? up, these words represent the spirit of what In August, 2004, Honeywell International, Inc.’s employee ambassadorship can accomplish for a Chairman and CEO, David Cole, sent a message company. Stated simply in the title of this piece, to the company’s 120,000+ employees, in which ambassadorship is employees living the promise he described their role in the company’s program of ‘wow’ customer value delivery, irrespective of to build and protect their brands: whether they are interfacing with purchasers of the company’s products and/or services, other “Every Honeywell employee is a brand colleagues, friends or family members. It is also ambassador. With every customer contact the partnership, and shared destiny, between and whenever we represent Honeywell, we employees and their employer. When this is done have the opportunity either to strengthen well, all stakeholders win. the Honeywell name or to cause it to lose some of its luster and prestige. Generations 1 Heskett, James L., W. Earl Sasser, Leonard A. of Honeywell employees have built our Schlesinger, The Service Profit Chain, Free Press/ powerful brands with their hard work, spirit Simon & Schuster, New York City, 1997. of innovation, passion for quality, and commitment to customers. I am counting on every Honeywell employee to continue that legacy.”