In a highly competitive global marketplace where large and small companies can be equalised by their websites, engaged employees who provide excellent customer service can differentiate their company from others and foster brand loyalty, according to Denise Graziano of Graziano Associates, who offers several ideas to help achieve better employee engagement. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

When many common denominators exist, what differentiates and brings customers back in today's highly competitive business market? Simply put, it has to be the quality of the offerings available and the people who provide them.

The level of employee engagement has a direct impact on whether customers return to the same vendor, or try a competitor. With good and bad reviews of products just one click away on the internet, stories of excellent customer service can spread very quickly. Disastrous customer service experiences can become viral in minutes.

According to the Workplace Research Foundation, increasing employee engagement programmes by 10% can increase profits by US$2400 per employee per year. Also, increased employee engagement can equal a 12% increase in customer satisfaction, which then raises revenue and margins. Research has also found a huge difference in workplace culture when employees are engaged vs. disengaged.

Engaged employees can impact everything from operating income, to employee satisfaction and promoting their company within their social circles, to the number of sick days employees take every year. For example, in companies that work to create brand ambassadors, employees take an average of 2.69 sick days a year while disengaged employees take 6.19 days a year.

So how can companies create a culture of happy, engaged employees who become brand ambassadors? There are five key ways:

  1. Happy, energetic people, who genuinely seem to enjoy their work are infectious
    Does your team give off that positive vibe to your customers? How do you to foster that environment for them? There must be a company culture approach for a happy work place, with the goal of keeping customers coming back.
  2. Get to know your clients
    Although employees may interact with many new clients each day, it is possible to create a bond with them. It builds a relationship with them. Even the "if you like that product, you might like this one" approach many online retailers use shows an interest in the client's satisfaction.
  3. Professionalism, respect and courtesy amplify your brand
    Each staff member should be professional and courteous whether "in uniform" or not. Employees should be good company ambassadors at all times.
  4. Appreciate your clients and ask for their future business
    Upon conclusion of a transaction, employee should thank the customers for their business. These gestures create positive experiences, which encourages repeat business.
  5. Clients are appreciated by all employees
    The corporate culture should be consistent from top down through the ranks. Examples set by the senior execs should be modelled throughout the company. It can improve your bottom line, Small gestures can go a long way to make customers feel welcome and appreciated.

Especially in any commoditized industry, remember that differentiators matter - the quality of the product and the people that provide it. Take some small steps today that will engage your customers and keep them coming back.