How this downturn will disengage workforces and threaten the customer-centric organisation

– and what to do about it.

Long before Sears’ famous Employee Customer Profit Chain, leaders of truly customer-focused organisations instinctively understood that an engaged workforce delivers superior customer service, which translates into superior profits.

But the unique downturn that appears to be looming ahead of us is likely to challenge the efforts of employers to retain an increasingly mobile workforce and so maintain a customer-centric focus.

While a buoyant labour market may seem positive, it can lead to a shortage of skilled workers and a lack of employee loyalty, or ‘stickiness’, which can be detrimental to customer service and, ultimately, the bottom line.

So, what can leaders and managers do to maintain a customer-focused culture and keep their workforce engaged?

1. Offer flexibility

Hybrid working is with us forever, and employees have woken up to the fact that, for many, their work can be done just as effectively away from the office.

Embrace it and make it work for you, your business, and your people. If you fail to do so, not only will you lose your best talent, but you’ll also struggle to replace them.

Read our report, Making Hybrid Working Work, for guidance.

2. Communicate more than ever before

Rumour and disinformation fill a communication vacuum. Ensure your people are hearing what they need to hear directly from you. Create unambiguous key messages and establish channels for two-way communication.

Provide high-quality change management support during periods of uncertainty and technological change to help reassure and smooth the transition. Ensure your employees have the tools, information and processes they need to deal with the transformation.

3. Address broken or sub-standard processes

So many promises have been made about AI-driven customer communications. But how many of us can report a positive experience with a chatbot? For many of us, chatbots, forums, and other technology-based customer service vehicles appear to be an impenetrable barrier between our needs and a human representative.

Of course, such technology can improve efficiency and effectiveness by addressing simple queries, freeing people to deal with more nuanced issues. But it’s crucial to strike the right balance and ensure that customers can express their needs and employees feel empowered to resolve them.

4. Make internal moves and development opportunities openly available

Clinging onto a key staff member for fear of losing them to a competitor or even to an opportunity within your organisation is unhealthy, unedifying and ultimately counterproductive.

Foster a culture of growth, professional development, and career opportunity to engage and retain the staff your business success relies on.

5. Measure and manage engagement and disengagement

Listen more. Use real-time feedback to identify areas where you are excelling and areas where you need to improve.

This will help you to identify and address any issues before they become more significant problems and ensure that your workforce remains engaged and focused on what matters most.

Ultimately, a customer-facing workforce is at its best when employees feel empowered and able to do their jobs effectively. Whether they’re nurses or bank contact centre reps, giving employees the tools and support they need to deliver excellent customer service is key to maintaining a customer-centric organisation.

By focusing on flexibility, communication, process improvement, and professional development, you can help ensure that your workforce remains engaged and ready to deliver superior customer service, even during challenging times.


If you need help with employee engagement, please get in touch. 



Image (c) Shutterstock | fizkes

Grahame Russell