The link between staff engagement and client service

“A strong focus upon the impact of the employee in building a client-centred culture is a key issue for firms who want to maintain a competitive advantage through client experiences.”

A staff member’s duties are most often tedious, repetitive and in some cases, boring. The moment staff lose motivation and become disengaged, client service will drop and the clients’ experience will suffer. Firms that wish to be client-centred, therefore need to be staff-centred too. It seems logical that fully satisfied and engaged staff, i.e. those that go the extra mile, takes real ownership of an issue, deliver on their commitments both externally and internally, and are passionate about the client, are those that truly make up a client-centric firm. A strong focus upon the impact of the employee in building a client-centred culture is therefore becoming a key issue for firms who want to maintain a competitive advantage through client experiences.

Engaged and motivated staff have heart and soul “bought into” the vision, values, culture and client focus of a firm. The benefits of engaged staff to improved client service is enormous:

  • Staff are energised and maintain and control every situation for a desirable outcome.
  • Staff are efficient – Above and beyond qualifications, they have the perfect balance between ability, willingness and attitude.
  • Staff work as a harmonious team – through teamwork, staff focus on cooperative relationships to the success of everyone, seeking a “win-win” all the time and adapting to change easily.
  • Stability – A stable workforce, especially in services, is crucial. Stability creates peace-of-mind, calmness and confidence. The staff and clients feel it, leading to increases loyalty.

The stronger the sense of engagement by staff, the more the clients will benefit through exceptional service levels. So what can a firm do to increase staff motivation and engagement, specific in relation to client service:

Organisational alignment
Firms should align their values to client feedback, involve their staff in developing the values, link the values to the brand (make them tangible), encourage staff to align their behaviour to the values and reward their staff for “living” the brand.

Management clarity
Staff look to management to model the desired behaviour in all areas – none the less for creating a client focused culture. Through a consistent focus on clients, by word and deed, management have the opportunity to create the desired behaviour they want to see in staff. They communicate effectively, set clear direction and manage client service performance fairly.

Listen to staff (and clients)
Place high value on the insights their staff members have into the needs of their clients. Whether based on day to day interaction or more formal reviews, this is an invaluable resource that should be fully utilised before contacting customers to gather their views. It will provide an excellent framework of knowledge on which to build and is a key stage of ensuring employee engagement to help deliver a positive customer experience. There should also be a deep desire to listen to clients via a formal feedback platform, i.e. satisfaction surveys. Specific questions should be asked to measure expectations compared to experiences so that “gaps” can be identified and “filled”. Acting on the feedback is critical.

CRM system
Staff have power to input and access information into a Client Relationship Management system for a better understanding of who their key clients are, what their needs are and what they need to do to meet those needs.

Staff empowerment and development
When staff are encouraged and enabled to grow and reach their full potential, their motivation levels go up. Clear roles are communicated, providing both authority and independence to make decisions.

Performance management
Performance management that doesn’t just focus on outputs, but also on the demonstration of desired client behaviours and values, measured and reviewed both internally and through the eyes of the client, has a powerful effect on staff engagement.

By focusing on these activities, firms can increase staff motivation and engagement levels – directly benefiting the client through improved client service.

For more information contact Tobie vd Merwe at

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.