Posted by: rayseghers | March 26, 2011

Customer Satisfaction versus Customer Loyalty

Years ago there was a big controversy among researchers and consultants about the efficacy of using customer satisfaction measures to assess the effectiveness of sales campaigns or to compare different sales groups.  The debate is similar to the one about employee commitment versus employee engagement.  The argument was that customer satisfaction was a nice-to-know attitude but that it was not really tapping into the behaviors that drive success.


The good news is that today much of the controversy is really semantic.  Most surveys that claim to measure customer satisfaction also measure likely behaviors such as likelihood to recommend, likelihood to purchase again in the future, etc.


The bottom line is that a survey, or any other measurement, must give us information that really tells us how successful we are and really tells us what to do to get better.


Posted by: rayseghers | February 24, 2011

Changing Gears

For many years, I have been looking at the business world through the eyes of employees, measuring their level of commitment to and engagement with their organizations.  Why?  Because I think that employees are key to an organization’s success.

Now, I am going to concentrate on the business world through the eyes of customers, measuring their level of satisfaction with and loyalty to the organizations they patronize.  Why?  Because I think that customers are key to an organization’s success.

A contradiction?  Of course not.  Successful organizations will take care of both, as they always have.

Surveys, whether they be customer or employee surveys, provide valuable information to managers.  One hopes that they will use that information to the fullest.

Posted by: rayseghers | February 11, 2011

Why do I like the survey approach?

Over the years I have seen several organizations change their priorities based on survey information from employees.  For example, one automobile parts manufacturing organization had already budgeted and scheduled a series of training programs for their production workers.   These programs were not mission critical, but were designed to encourage employee skill enhancement.  Now there is certainly nothing wrong with this, but an employee survey revealed that this was one of the lowest priorities for their employees at this time.  The money could be better spent on upgrading employee benefits.


If time and money were not issues then one would always opt to improve everything.  But time and money are always issues so tough decisions are often necessary.   Basically it comes down to a matter of degree, a matter of priorities, a matter of information.   It requires managers to review processes and procedures on a regular basis.  It requires them to solicit feedback from employees on a regular basis.  It requires them to know what the competition is doing and what new ideas and technologies are now available.


And while it may be about the journey, the organization needs to know where it is headed.  Without a well-defined organizational mission and vision and without knowing how each group fits in with the big picture managers cannot even begin to know if something is broken or not.  Organizations must let their employees know where they are going and ask them to help them get there.


Posted by: rayseghers | January 29, 2011

Ann Arbor Business Examiner

This week I became the Ann Arbor Business Examiner for  I will be writing about a lot of the same issues that I cover here but I will try to put an Ann Arbor spin whenever appropriate.


Check it out.  There is a link in the column to the right.  Thanks.

Posted by: rayseghers | January 17, 2011

Let’s Try Again…

About this time last year I said that 2010 should be the Year of the Employee.  That is, the year in which organizations remembered that their employees are valuable assets and not costly expenses.  Well, the economy did not rebound as we hoped.  Yes, there are glimmers of hope but they are rather dim and are hiding in the shadows of still too high unemployment.


OK, so let 2011 be the Year of the Employee.


Please don’t make me have to do this again next year.  Next year I want to be writing about the recovery and how organizations are investing in their future success by investing in the future success of their employees.  Wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?


Posted by: rayseghers | December 21, 2010

Managing People versus Managing Tasks

Project Management (PM) is a term that we hear all the time and it is likely how we think about what we do.  Of course it is important to think about deliverables, timelines, and budgets; however, it tends to put the emphasis on tasks rather than on the people performing those tasks.


If you only manage the task, then your people will only know how to perform that task.  If you manage your people – train them in problem solving and problem avoidance, build an effective team, and communicate organizational goals and constraints – they will know how to perform better in general.


So, when we hear PM, maybe we ought to think of People Management instead.


Posted by: rayseghers | December 9, 2010

Engagement Driver/Retention Driver – Same Thing?

Motivating employees to do well and keeping them with your organization is really one and the same job for managers, right?  In a word, no.


When I was a survey consultant at The Loyalty Institute, I had many colleagues who were Benefits Consultants.  They were miffed when our research did not identify satisfaction with benefits as a key driver of engagement.  How could that be?  This undermined their entire consulting strategy.  Well, not really.


To make a long story short, they realized that what makes people stay at an organization may not make them work harder and be more committed to their organizations on a day-to-day basis.  People don’t work harder on a Tuesday afternoon because they have medical insurance.  Yes, a good benefits program may keep employees from looking at the Help Wanted ads, but people work harder on Tuesday afternoon because they understand how their jobs align with the mission and vision of the organization, they have a sense of affiliation with their team members, and they have a chance to use their skills and to develop new ones.


Yes, a manager has to keep his/her employees with the organization but even more importantly he/she has to make sure that their time there is productive for both the organization and for the individual.


Posted by: rayseghers | December 3, 2010

Skill Building versus Team Building

My colleague, Carl Greenberg, just posted his monthly newsletter.  Please check it out at:

He makes the point that the job of a supervisor is not only to build the skills of the individuals in his group but also to build that group into a cohesive and effective team.  These two things are not at all the same thing.

Reaching a high skill level can be done internally via training or externally via recruitment.  Either way, team building must be done internally and it must be relevant to the job at hand.  Teamwork for the sake of teamwork won’t work.  Teamwork that allows the group to reach its goals in a timely manner will work.

Of course, for organizations the job doesn’t stop there.  Even if each first line supervisor builds an effective team, higher level managers must blend those teams into a super-team – a team of teams.  Remember that the supervisor of each of these groups is part of a higher level group reporting to a higher level manager.  The supervisor is the linking pin that holds the groups together into an organization.  The team building process can begin at the top or bottom but either way must continue throughout the entire organization.

Oh, by the way, it is not a one-time deal.  Team building is an on-going process.  Goals change.  People change.  Teams must adapt to the new reality.

Posted by: rayseghers | November 29, 2010


One criticism of engagement surveys is that they promote an “entitlement mentality.”  This is somewhat of an anti-employee attitude.  To be fair, some engagement consultants do place so much emphasis on pleasing employees that a backlash may have been warranted.


A good engagement survey ought to look at the needs of the organization as well as the needs of the employee.  As mentioned in my previous blog post, it doesn’t have be Business versus Employee.


A good engagement survey measures a lot more than just engagement.  Of course it must measure the workplace drivers of engagement but it should also measure other outcomes such as customer satisfaction and productivity.


A good engagement survey must match the culture of the organization so that the organization is comfortable using the results to improve the organization for its sake and the sake of its employees.


Posted by: rayseghers | November 15, 2010

Business versus Employee

In the recent elections, we heard a lot of rhetoric about the economy and how to fix it.  Some candidates focused on solutions that favored business while others focused on solutions that favored employees.  Many made it sound as if it were one or the other – business interests versus employee interests.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Solutions ought to focus on the interests of both.  They are not mutually exclusive.  Now, let’s be honest.  Some organizations are guilty of neglecting their employees and some employees are guilty of neglecting their employers.  There is enough guilt to go around.


This is not a blog about politics.  It is about building effective, productive organizations that attract, develop, and retain talent.  I have written before about “mutual commitment” between employers and employees.  Unfortunately, this only seems to happen when times are good.  When the going gets tough, battle lines are drawn.  Both sides dig in their heels in the name of “taking care of number one.”  But this is not a zero-sum game and this often results in a lose-lose situation.   Organizations must view employees as an asset and not as an expense.  They must view training and development as investments in their future and not as expenses that must be minimized.


So, am I being too naïve?  Perhaps, but I think it is the best strategy.


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