Enhancing Customer Collaboration through Employees

“Effectively, change is almost impossible without industry-wide collaboration, cooperation, and consensus.” – Simon Mainwaring

To start with, customer collaboration is about what a company does with feedback received from customers in order to make its service, products, and business consistently better. Such collaboration is possible only when everyone – that is the employees – works together to ensure that customers stay with the company and would be happy to provide feedback for the company to improve. Companies collect customer feedback through a number of ways, including but not limited to, surveys, web based analytics, and social media. The data that companies collect would be most useful when stored in a centralized location, easy to access and use, by the employees who deal directly with customers, and others within the company whose work may affect the service provided to customers. Without cohesion and collaboration between all teams, it would tough for a company to provide service excellence.

Customer collaboration through employees is about them working together as a cohesive unit, sharing knowledge, solving problems, understanding the challenges faced by different departments, and ensuring an energized and meaningful work atmosphere. It is only when all internal ‘parts’ of a company work together that customer collaboration would be possible. The fact is that customers want to work only with companies that appear strong and united, and can assuredly provide consistently good levels of service. It is the responsibility of a company to improve interaction and teamwork internally, and to do so employees must have a platform of communication. When employees can openly communicate with each, it would be a lot easier for them to engage, share, seek help, show their skills, and contribute knowledge with others who may need it. This is an easy and effective method to break down departmental silos and increase awareness and appreciation of others within the company. The more employees understand each other, the stronger a company becomes, which in turn leads to better customer collaboration and service. With top class service, customers are happy and remain with a company for longer, and even encourage others to engage in business – loyalty and brand advocacy.

The fact is that a company cannot function without its employees, and it is therefore essential to give them an environment of openness, encouragement, and positive feedback. In addition, employees expect that their company would keep them updated about the happenings in the company, and let them know regularly what the company expects from them. Regular feedback is something that most employees welcome – it makes them feel empowered, listened to, and connected with their team and the rest of the organization. One of the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of customer collaboration through employees is the inability of employees across the company to come together, discuss, and meet each other regularly. Given that many companies have branches and locations not only within their home country but also across the globe, getting employees together is neither possible nor feasible. Companies must invest in technology that would enable video conferencing and other such methods that would allow employees to ‘come together’ to discuss, share, learn from and understand each other. Through technology, employees get to ‘meet and greet’ their counterparts from across the world, without actually leaving their physical space. The premise of customer collaboration is that in order for customers to stay and provide great feedback, the company would need to work towards it by proactively getting their employees to work together.

Going by the meaning of customer collaboration, a company must encourage regular and open communication between its employees. People working in the company must remain proactive in resolving issues and problems. This would mean that whoever can find a solution must do so – picking up the phone or connecting directly, with their counterparts. This would help to sort out problems and clear any misunderstanding between employees. The better employees understand each other, the more amenable they would be work together to sort out any problems and serve the company, and its customers well. It is also the responsibility of the company to ensure that its leaders set good examples – caring for employees, understanding their challenges, and being attentive to the needs of the company’s customers. Through openness and empowerment, employees would be better equipped to deal with situations and would gladly overcome challenges they face with regard to serving customers and providing them with top class experiences.

Through employees, customer collaboration becomes easier, since employees would provide ideas on how to improve the business, and service to customer. Since they are the ones dealing directly with customers, it would make sense to take their feedback with regard to customer collaboration. Of course, it would be a good idea to recognize and reward such behaviour of employees, and would encourage them to get even better. Other employees, who see such recognition provided to their co-workers, would also be enthusiastic to perform better and receive the same. In addition, to forge customer collaboration through employees, a company must create an energized environment by encouraging them to build friendship and associations outside of the workspace. While in the office, employees are surrounded constantly by problems and work under pressure. By providing them with opportunities for outdoor gatherings, office parties, and other such de-stressing activities, employees learn to collaborate with each other, a lot better. This overall leads to better customer collaboration and a stronger company.

Leaders of the company, as mentioned several times, set the pace, and culture of a company and employees emulate whatever they do. In order to encourage customer collaboration through employees, it would be imperative for the leadership to set an example of breaking down silos, working cohesively, and earning credibility within the company and with customers. There is another aspect that works like magic to stir customer collaboration through employees – competition. Encouraging friendly contests within teams and between different teams creates a healthy sense of competition, and yet goads each one to outdo the other. Not only does this prove exciting and fruitful, it provides your company with an opportunity to assess whom its best players are, and to give them opportunities to advance upward on the hierarchical ladder. In addition, employees must be let in on what the company’s competitors are doing, the new products they launch, and the strategies they implement. Doing so provides an impetus to the employees to take the company they work to greater heights, serve customers better, and do everything possible to ‘trounce’ the competition.

Attaining customer collaboration through employees is all about getting everyone to understand and align to common goals of the company, which in turn would include providing top class customer service for the business to succeed. It is about humanizing the brand, since that is one of the top priorities of customers, and in doing so, it encourages employees to work with the company and feel like they are an indispensable and valued part of the company. Happy employees are energized, engaged, and are a lot more effective in getting customers to open up and provide effective feedback to help the company improve, which in turn would make the company the kind that customers love and employees want to stay with.

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