As I unloaded my cart on a recent visit to the grocery store, I heard the cashier tell his fellow employee, “I’m so tired of working this line. I can’t wait to be out of here!” Hearing this, I considered how the store manager would react if he heard this from his employee. To be sure, the manager would consider the comment a poor reflection on his store and on the company brand. Employees who talk about being bored on the job – in front of customers – are adversaries for a brand rather than advocates, a situation every company wants to avoid.
While no company would have turned to economic recession as a strategy, as it turns out, many companies have reaped an unexpected benefit of the recession—their employees’ increased engagement in serving customers. What happened? In an economy riddled with high unemployment, employees translated being grateful to their employers for their jobs to being grateful to customers for providing them. The connection between customer and paycheck became clear and direct.
Many consumer products companies have used that same principle with on-the-spot rewards programs, a strategy to increase the number of brand-advocating employees. Under this program, a mystery shopper delivers rewards ranging from gift cards to T-shirts. To earn the reward, the employee must successfully deliver on all aspects of customer service excellence or demonstrate specific product knowledge. Well-designed on-the-spot rewards programs reinforce to employees that important connection between customer and paycheck.
When I have the misfortune of being a customer in a place where employees are talking about how tired they are and how much they just want to “get out of here”, I want to get out of there, too!