A century and a half ago, when a person wanted to be remembered (what marketers today call “being top of mind”), it was customary to leave a card whenever one went out “calling.” In those days, you couldn’t pick up a phone and call your friends or send them an email to check in. You personally visited the homes of friends, family, and social peers; you would leave a calling card if the person wasn’t home.
A calling card was similar to a business card. It displayed the person’s name and address in case the recipient wanted to send a thank you note. But even though they contained contact information, the purpose of a calling card was quite different. It was personal, meant to enhance one’s social standing by creating a memorable experience. Thus, a great deal of attention was paid to the quality, printing and details of a calling card, and it was of critical importance that each calling card be unique and delivered according to strict rules.
The tradition of leaving a calling card has been lost to the ages, but the idea of being top of mind with the people who matter most to us is still a key consideration to any high-growth business. Today, one sure way to stay top of mind with those who matter is by having engaged employees who care deeply about creating a positive and unique customer experience―one that’s memorable and keeps customers coming back and recommending your small-to-medium business (SMB) to others.
Today, it’s people who are your company’s best calling card. Here’s why.
It makes sense that engagement impacts individual performance. After all, your best employees are typically those who feel connected to your organization’s purpose and truly care about customers and coworkers.
But it’s also been shown that employee engagement has a well-established connection to performance outcomes such as customer satisfaction, profitability, productivity, and more. In a recent study of nearly 50,000 work units and nearly 1.4 million employees, Gallup found that SMBs ranking high on employee engagement were 22 percent more profitable, 21 percent more productive, and had 10 percent better customer rating than low engagement organizations. These organizations also saw significantly lower turnover: 25 percent less turnover in historically high-turnover organization, and 65 percent less turnover in historically low-turnover organizations.
What is it about engagement that has such a strong impact on organizational performance? The answer goes back to how we define engagement: Gallup defines it as having employees who “are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” In short, engaged employees are those who deeply care about the organization they work for and the purpose it serves; they care about the people in their work orbit, both fellow employees and customers.
Perhaps most importantly, engaged employees aren’t just there to collect a paycheck. They have an emotional, personal commitment to making sure customers have a great experience. When you get enough engaged employees together, your organization develops a culture of engagement and a reputation based on exceeding expectations― not just meeting them. This attracts other engaged individuals who will further strengthen relationships within and outside the company.
In an increasingly impersonal world, this level of personal care hearkens back to an earlier time, and is the modern-day “calling card” that creates memorable experiences that are hard to replicate.
It might seem that employee engagement wouldn’t matter much to customers in the Age of digital transformation, but studies are finding that the exact opposite is true. Technology is certainly transforming how organizations serve their customers, but it’s taking the customer experience in two opposing directions. In some organizations, technology is being leveraged to automate processes and eliminate human interaction mainly in the pursuit of lower costs and higher profits. In other organizations, technology is being used to help employees create unique and memorable experiences that exceed customer expectations.
Both approaches have their merits. When technology replaces the human touch, it can make serving customers less expensive. However, this is an approach that leaves organizations little choice but to compete on price, since they can’t compete on service. But when technology is leveraged by engaged employees to enhance and personalize the customer experience, it allows them to deliver something unique and memorable. Greater customer loyalty, a willingness to pay more for better service and higher profits can result.
Recent research supports the idea that customers will pay more for the type of customer experience that only engaged employees can provide. A recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that the majority of the more than 4,000 individuals surveyed would be willing to pay a premium of as much as 16 percent to have a better customer experience. Also worth noting: 74 percent wanted more human interaction in their customer experience, while 64 percent felt companies had lost touch with the human side of the customer experience.
Figures like these demonstrate that your people―and the experiences they provide―are one of the biggest differentiators your growing company has in an increasingly competitive and technology-driven marketplace. In short, engaged employees are your “calling cards” that deliver memorable, loyalty-enhancing experiences that stand out from the crowd.