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    Carl Bennett, PrincipalDeloitte Consulting

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Engaged Employees Key to Service Excellence

by Karen D. Fate, former automotive executive with Audi Academy

Companies in all industries are striving to separate themselves from their competitors and build loyalty with excellent customer service. Interestingly, one of the most important components of service excellence is one which might not be so obvious: how engaged are your employees? Do they truly love what they do? If so, the chances of achieving a high degree of service excellence increases, as does the bottom line.

The 2007 Global Workforce Study by Towers Perrin established a link between levels of employee engagement and financial performance. Firms with the highest percentage of engaged employees collectively increased operating income 19% and earnings per share 28% year to year. 1

Companies of all sizes have learned the importance of employee engagement, especially during the economic downturn, when it can be a key to success. One example is MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. Gamal Aziz took over as president in 2001, when Las Vegas was on a roll – and so was the MGM Grand. The challenge for Aziz: take something good and make it even better. “Employee engagement in times of difficulties and severe economic climate is far more profoundly important”, says Aziz. “It’s their decisions, their attitude that make the difference.” 2

How can you assure your employees are truly engaged? It starts with the selection process – finding people with the right competencies to be able to communicate and think on their feet – with the right level of enthusiasm or perhaps empathy.

Then, appropriate employee communications as well as customer service training are crucial. In addition to the possessing the knowledge and technical skills to do the job, employees have to thoroughly understand your brand and your customer.

Lastly, ensure that the systems and processes are in place which support a culture of service excellence. This begins with leadership – and complete alignment throughout the organization. If all of these things are in place – service excellence will follow, as will improved business results and customer loyalty.

source: The Research on ROI of Employee Engagement, Skip Reardon, Six Disciplines
source: BloombergBusinessweek, interactive case study, January 2009

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