Guest Column: Four Words to Boost Employee Engagement

When I was the second car in a four car accident a few months ago, I made three phone calls within the first 15 minutes. I called 911, my husband and my car insurance company, in that order. Ironically, I'd just read the 1 to 1 Weekly article on how Nationwide insurance had improved customer engagement with just three words. So even though I wasn't surprised by the Geico operator's first question, I still heard myself exhale a sigh of relief. He asked me, "Are you okay?"

The 1 to 1 Weekly article, based on a presentation by Nationwide's Doug Stafford at the Frost and Sullivan Customer Contact Executive MindXchange in April 2008, explained how Nationwide raised customer satisfaction without raising costs, simply by training customer service employees to make an emotional connection with customers who call to report a claim or occurrence. With these three words, "Are you okay?" Nationwide sought to demonstrate that they live up to their slogan, "Nationwide is on your side." They certainly tapped a need.

As it turns out my relief at the scene of the accident turned to frustration as soon as my Geico operator read the prepared legal script on subrogation, but I have to admit I was more forgiving because he'd asked so sincerely about my well-being. He'd built up a little trust reserve, on which I drew in the days of unsuccessful telephone tag and voice messages to my adjuster, and which was quickly replenished when I received a phone message keeping me updated about Geico's efforts to recover my deductible from the driver who was at fault for the accident.

How does this apply to employee engagement? There are three important lessons:

  • Give people a voice.
  • Meet an emotional need.
  • Manage by relief.

Give People a Voice

Meet an Emotional Need

Manage by Relief

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