G.A. Taylor Fernley: What spells relief for your business? Featured

7:01pm EDT January 31, 2012
G.A. Taylor Fernley G.A. Taylor Fernley

How do you spell relief?

The short answer is: C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R L-O-Y-A-L-T-Y and E-M-P-L-O-Y-E-E  P-E-R-F-O-R-M-A-N-C-E.

As leaders in business, we all struggle with how to find solutions to reduce the pain within our own competitive working environment. Building off of personal experiences, I have found that success comes from embracing a formula of unparalleled customer loyalty and exceptional employee performance.

The key to gaining customer loyalty and employee performance is to earn it. Talk is cheap. It is then up to us create a blueprint to excel in these critical areas. Ask your customers and yourself these 10 probing questions. If you then execute on them, you will be well on your way to success. Do it, and, yes, business will follow.

Know thy customer

Consider going out on a limb, sitting down with your customers and asking them these five questions (I refer to it as my annual “in-touch” initiative):

1. What is the most important thing you value of us as your professional service provider?

2. We pride ourselves on our extraordinary service. What’s the most extraordinary thing we have done for you over the past 12 months? Why did this impress you?

3. If we could improve just one thing to make our partnership even stronger and more meaningful over the past year, what would it be?

4. What is one thing we should stop doing and reallocate those resources to other areas?

5. We’re committed to creating a professional, yet family-like environment here. What would make you feel more part of our family?

The best time to ask customers questions of this nature is in a relaxed environment (e.g., not at a meeting or convention). Let the customer know in advance the purpose of your questions and how they will be used. Remember to thank them for their input. By reaching out to your customer and sharing the collective responses back to them, strong customer loyalty will follow.

Trust thy employees

Your employees/associates are the key to delivering extraordinary service, and those who are good at what they do, and love doing it, tend to drive customer loyalty. A successful customer-focused organization is one that is, first and foremost, client-centric. Here are five questions you might ask your employees/associates to get a sense of what might make them more satisfied, productive and enabled: 

1. What do you love about your job?

2. What two things do you need in the workplace that will enable you to perform your job better?

3. What two obstacles can we remove to allow you to perform at a higher level, thus making your job more rewarding to you?

4. What makes you feel valued and a part of our workplace family?

5. What other responsibilities or jobs in the organization would you like to be involved in?

The answers to these questions will serve as a barometer of workplace effort, attitude and engagement. The CEO should openly share this feedback with all associates, comment on how it impacts business and what, if any, changes might be in the works based on the responses. While not all responses demand changes, all comments should be heard, recognized and considered.

Your employees are your eyes, ears and voice to the customer world. They are your idea generators, your efficiency experts and your image makers. Connect to them, know them and respond to them. An employee who feels listened to, supported and personally cared for will provide the same responses for the customer.

Relief from the challenges we all face daily will come in many ways. Consider these 10 questions on customer loyalty and employee performance, execute on them, and you will find that you are well on your way to an even healthier environment geared towards continued success.

G.A. Taylor Fernley is president and CEO of Fernley & Fernley, an association management company founded in 1886. Reach him at tfernley(at)fernley.com, or for more information, visit www.fernley.com.