The Power of Love

As a man that had to ask an exasperating three times before getting the right response (and even then it wasn’t convincing!) I won’t pretend I have much to teach about romantic engagement proposals.  I met my better half in the library, and well leave it at that.


This week I have been reading a fascinating report which focuses on ‘engagement’ of a very different kind.  The ‘2007-2008 Towers Perrin Global Workforce Study’ demonstrates an interesting relationship between workforce engagement and business performance. 


This study shows that companies with highest employee engagement achieve better financial results and are able to retain their most valued employees.  For example, companies with high engagement saw operating income increase 19% over one year, while earnings per share grew by 28%.  Conversely, companies with low engagement saw income fall by more than 32%, and EPS by more than 11% over the same period.  Other findings outlined in the study further demonstrate the correlation between engagement and performance.


The downside to these revelations is the finding that of approx 90,000 participants, only 21% were ‘engaged’ (i.e. willing to go the extra mile to help the business succeed) whereas 38% were wholly or partly disengaged.  So how should companies seek to bridge this engagement gap?


No one magic formula to engaging the workforce was identified in the study, although leadership style and work environment were clearly key factors.  Employees were willing to give more of themselves for their employer (and like to be rewarded for it too!) but needed to know that management cared.  Worryingly, only 40% of employees in the study felt that the organisation they worked for had their best interests at heart. 


Coincidentally (or maybe not) experts say the secret to successful relationships is putting the other person’s interests first, and it would seem that organisations aren’t all that different.  As I’ve discovered from my 5 years of matrimonial bliss, you start with love and the pounds (or Kilograms if you prefer) soon follow.

What's The Big Idea?

Following on from yesterday’s insight from Andy Hornby, we promised you a first look today at some exciting developments. So here goes. Well firstly, there are four big ideas. No, make that four and a half.

1 – Cut the distance between our customers and us.
2 – Ambassadorise everyone
3 – Ban incentives
4 – Go public!
4.5 – Personal Service

Cut the distance between our customers and us.

By the time customer feedback makes it from the front line to the policy makers, it has passed through so many filters that it bears little resemblance to its original self. We then go ahead and make policy decisions based on this distorted view. Devolve the decision making close to the edge of the organisation. Speed up.

Ambassadorise everyone

You know when you are down the pub and someone asks “who do you work for?” I think I’ll keep that to myself in case the next question is “well my phone line/broadband/mobile etc etc ain’t working, who do I call?” Use knowledge management to enable me to find the answer and get back to my drinking buddy and solve his problem with him. If 100,000 BT people did that for 5 of their friends….that’s a lot of great customer experiences!

Ban incentives

Are we actually paying people to do dumb things? Everyone comes to work wanting to do a good job and intrinsically they know what’s right. Then we go and spoil it all by offering financial incentives which drive the wrong behaviour. How can that be good for us and our customers?

Go public!

Use the power of social media to share stuff with, and learn stuff from, our customers! Get blogging, facebooking, myspaceing, whatever. Set up a problem blog on, be open and encourage customers and BT people to answer the questions. The blog you are reading right now came about as a direct response to this idea. We’ve seen evidence of Twitter being used as a means of improving the customer experience too.

Personal Service

Something else that came up repeatedly was the power of the single point of contact. Most of our positive experiences involved the personal touch. So why not replicate that in BT. When you have a customer contact you, it is your responsibility to deal with it, own it and fix it, on behalf of your customer. Personal service from BT – how powerful.
We had great fun coming up with these ideas and we’re working on bringing them to life.

Can we make them work…what do you think?

Quote of the day

I pinched this from The Independent newspaper.

The bonus system has proved to be wrong. Substantial cash bonuses do not reward the right kind of behaviour.

Andy Hornby, former CEO, HBOS.

You don’t say! Doubtless such profound insight is worth all the money he trousered then? We’ve been working on something which proves Mr Hornby, and others to be right on the mark. Shame it took such upheaval to get this issue front of brain. Come back tomorrow and we’ll share our first thoughts with you.