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Shep Hyken's "Golden Rule of Employee Advocacy"

shep_1.png March 07, 2016 / Jose Manuel Arrias Zuleta

Sometimes we are caught in a moment where we are forced to face two options: doing the right thing or doing what we’re told to. For Shep Hyken, doing the right thing led him to find his true passion in helping people.

 

“Treat your employees the way you want your customers to be treated” 

Being a bestselling author, recognized conference speaker and having a clientele like American Airlines, AT&T, AETNA, Abbot Laboratories, American Express and many others didn’t simply happen overnight. During our interview with Shep, he mentioned that the values for his hard work and doing the right thing actually came from his parents, who always taught him well. You should say “thank you”, always show up early, and keep in mind these small basic things that really do matter.

His passion for Customer Service was sparked one day during one of his summer jobs at a gas station, where he noticed an elderly woman trying to pump gas.

“I kindly asked her to sit in her car, and I took care of pumping the gas for her. My manager got upset because it was a self-service gas station, so everybody was supposed to fill their own tank. I said this woman was very old and she could have fallen at any time. He did not appreciate that, but it was simply the way I was raised. I had this passion for Customer Service without even knowing it”.

 

You can’t treat your employees poorly and then expect them to go out and do something nice for the company. 

It just doesn’t work that way. Employee Advocacy should allow every employee to become an influencer. When we asked Shep what this term means to him, he immediately thought about treating employees the same way you want your customers to be treated. Something he refers to as “The Employee Golden Rule”.

“I think that if you treat the employee right, they’ll treat the customer right. Employee Advocacy means that you advocate on behalf of your employees”. 

When employees are motivated, they always do better than expected, hence the element of recognition plays an important role on how to do this the right way. One important aspect to consider is that no matter which strategy you want to implement to increase the motivation and engagement of employees, it should always start from the bottom to the top of the company structure.

 

If a customer encounters a problem with your product or service and is not served in a timely fashion, the first thing they will turn to is social media. 

Shep made one thing very clear; Customer Service is not only about answering complaints. It’s also about engaging all levels of the organization to act on behalf of the company. According to Shep, from the practical point of view; when employees share anything relevant to your brand or company on social media, they could actually be selling and capturing potential leads or answering any question related to your business. This might contribute to these people becoming potential customers.

 

But how can I implement an Employee Advocacy program for my organization? 

During the last part of the interview, I couldn’t say goodbye without asking Shep how he, as an expert, would implement an Employee Advocacy program for an organization. There was no surprise that his first approach would be through Customer Service.

“I would try to make everybody understand the benefits of having a fully engaged company culture, where everybody is able to publish the benefits of using their own service/product and spread the digital word of mouth on social media. This can be very beneficial, since people can find the answers without actually having to contact the company or go through support material. Then, through a very well elaborated survey, employees can actually nominate or add certain comments regarding which employee has done something nice to motivate others, or boost the productivity, or social media participation, among many others”.

To wrap this up, I will share something very meaningful that Shep shared with me during our conversation. Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines was asked what was more important: the stakeholders, the employees, or the customers in order to keep a successful company? To this he answered without hesitation:

Employees are the most important. When you take care of your employees, they will treat the customers very well, and they will want to fly more with you, which will make the stakeholders happy. Keep your employees happy, and everyone is happy”.

The Definitive Guide to Employee Advocacy