What compels an employee to go beyond what is required and provide what’s needed? What moves them to listen and serve with compassion and empathy? Tinisha Agramonte, former Director of the Commerce Department’s Office of Civil Rights, explained it this way: When diverse people feel engaged at work beyond just satisfaction, it creates optimal customer experiences.
“If you have an engaged workforce, it does correlate to improved CX,” Agramonte said during a panel at the Virtual Government CX Conference @930Gov.
Satisfied employees will get the work done, and they’re content, for the most part, whether it’s with their work schedule and accommodations or other benefits. They view their jobs as just that — a job. In contrast, engaged employees are passionate about what they do. Not only are they focused on getting their work done, but they want to see the organization succeed. They don’t see their jobs as work they must do but rather as work they want to do.
This level of engagement doesn’t happen by chance or through osmosis. It is taught, demonstrated, reciprocated and established as a core value that starts with leaders and flows throughout the organization.
Exceeding What’s Required to Meet the Needs of Tribal Members
Sylvia Johnson doesn’t call the people she serves customers; she calls them family.
And when you’re helping family members, it isn’t uncommon to drive them to a doctor’s appointment, or to swing by their house in the evening to drop off emergency supplies or diapers.
Although Johnson’s title is Office Clerk for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Social Services Office, what she gives of herself far exceeds her job description and doesn’t end when her Livingston, Texas, office closes at 5 p.m.
“But it’s not your job, [and] you’re not paid to do that,” are comments that Johnson is used to hearing. Her response: “It doesn’t matter. It’s still a job duty that has been assigned. And I’m going to do it if I can do it, if I’m able to do it.”
She describes the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas as one big family, in particular because of its size. “The tribe is not that huge,” she said. There are fewer than 1,500 members on the tribal roll, and about 500 live on the reservation.
Part of what drives Johnson is a deep understanding that people have needs outside the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. A little more than a year ago, the team decided to program office phones to route to an employee’s cell phone after hours so that members could still get help. Who that employee is shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“I’ve had people call me…Sunday evening and say, ‘Hey, my power went out, or my water got cut off,’” Johnson said. A quick fix could mean providing battery-operated lighting and bottled water until the office opens on Monday to process paperwork and fully resolve the issue.
Engaged Employees Serve With Empathy
Johnson’s proximity to those she serves isn’t just in miles or physical distance. It’s deeper than that. It’s how she’s wired. She wants to erase the stigma or burden that some tribal members feel when it comes to asking for help. That’s her greatest challenge: encouraging people to get the help they need.
But that challenge compelled her and her colleagues to think of creative ways to get the word out, whether through social media or other means. And sometimes the issue preventing people from getting help is awareness. Johnson knows this firsthand because she didn’t know that the social services program existed before joining the staff nearly six years ago — even though she worked in the building next door.
Over the years, Johnson has worked in multiple positions on the reservation, including as a police dispatcher, a cashier, retail trainer and in the finance department. About 75% of the employees she’s trained are younger than she is, and the time she spends investing in them directly benefits the people they serve.
Her motto is simple yet effective: From a business standpoint, the customer’s wallet is what sustains the organization and your job. From a moral perspective, don’t treat others how they treat you. Treat each customer with respect and empathy. Welcome them with a warm smile and acknowledge them. Even if they don’t respond, be the bigger person; be the better person.
This article is an excerpt from Govloop’s recent guide, “Your Guide to Improving Customer Experience Through Inclusion, Engagement & Data.” Download the full guide here.
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