4 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

By: Clarabridge Team

November 22, 2016

customer experience
employee empowerment
employee engagement

You can’t have a great customer experience without a great employee experience. The two are intrinsically linked: Great managers create great employees, who ultimately create great customer experiences.

Clarabridge recently hosted a webinar with Gary Magenta, Customer Experience Will Never Exceed Employee Experience. The webinar expressed four key ways to build up the employee experience – all of which are focused on empowering your employees:

Connect your Employees to the Strategy:

Many businesses fail to connect their employees to the bigger picture of why certain customer strategies are in place. Sharing insight into the competitive landscape or the thinking behind a certain process can help employees understand the overall strategy itself. This in turn helps front-line team members understand why and how they need to deliver on it.

Once employees understand the strategy, it is up to the management team to provide the skills and resources to deliver that strategy consistently. And don’t forget it’s a 24/7 effort – employees need to know how it translates across mobile, online, in-store, and in the call center.

One way to do this is by incorporating customer strategy into employee training programs. At Welk Resorts, for example, every team member receives a seven-step “INSPIRED Engagement” card as part of their training. One of the seven steps involves learning how to ask for feedback about a guest’s stay while the guest is at the hotel. Employees can then practice and discuss ways to ask for feedback, how to respond to certain types of customer comments, and what not to do.

Share Success and Celebrate Employees:

You need to foster a company culture that celebrates employee empowerment. Leaders need to show it’s a priority for the entire organization. One way to do this is by sharing what success or great experiences look like. While numbers and ratings are important to share, it’s the stories behind the data that will spur action.

For example, the offices at Rackspace constantly celebrate employee achievements. A ticker tape wraps around one of the main open spaces in the offices, displaying the NPS score, which way it’s trending, and a few customer comments that are driving the score. It shows employees exactly what they need to know. When an employee receives positive customer feedback, they receive a flag with details of their positive work. Throughout the Rackspace offices, flags hang down from the ceiling over the employee’s desks, reminding the entire team that good customer service is celebrated far and wide.

Set up the Hard-Lines and No-Lines:

Empowerment is an attitude: good customer experience is not always about giving things away or cash compensation. It’s also about employees showing empathy and understanding. Customers want to know that an employee wants to make things right for them.

To empower your employees, you have to trust them. And when you share policies and procedures, break them down into three different areas:

  • The hard lines: These are the non-negotiables. For example, at a hotel reception desk, the front desk team member must always greet the guest, mention the guest’s loyalty tier, and highlight the hotel amenities.
  • The guidelines: These are the rules that guide an employee’s decision, but that the employee has some flexibility in delivering against. For example, a waitress at a restaurant may be told that she should always check in on a diner’s table once, halfway through their meal. But, if the waitress feels that there’s a need to check in on a specific table more than once, then this would be at her discretion. The management needs to trust that she is making the decision in order to improve the diner’s experience.
  • The no lines: This is where an employee can be their complete authentic self. They are empowered to act like the business owners. This could be a case where if a customer complains about the main course served in a restaurant, a waiter makes the decision to offer them a complimentary dessert.

Keep the Feedback Coming:

Lots of companies launch lengthy employee questionnaires once or twice a year, asking employees about their pay, the work culture, their bosses, etc. While this can be helpful, you can also learn a lot by empowering employees to constantly share their thoughts.

For example, Best Buy launched an employee portal as part of their POS system on the shop floor. It offered a simple comment box where employees could leave notes about anything they wanted to share with management. For example, they could write down that a customer found it hard to find the TV products in the store, that they would benefit from more training on dSLR cameras, or that a customer thought Sarah did a great job at explaining how to pick the right laptop. By making employee feedback constant, open-ended, and easy to submit, management can constantly stay current and on the pulse of what customers are thinking.


The keys to a great customer experience lie in empowering your workforce to think with the customer in mind. Connect employees with your strategy, give them the skills and space to be their authentic selves, and empower them to celebrate customer feedback and deliver positive customer experiences.

To learn more about how to empower your employees, watch the full webinar Customer Experience Will Never Exceed Employee Experience here.