Go back

Is employee engagement killing your customer service?

When it comes to customer service, organizations often adhere to the misconception that customer service is a department, and serving a customer’s needs extends only as far as what they paid for.


Brian Gareau, a speaker and consultant specializing in solutions to engage employees and accelerate high performance, rejects these claims. “Customer service is not a department,” says Gareau. “It’s an attitude, and it involves the entire organization.” In order to have good customer service, an organization must have engaged and dedicated employees.

After all, how can customers love an organization if the employees don’t love it first? From defining employee engagement to discussing factors that affect customer service, Gareau has several strategies to take your customer service from ho-hum to home run.


Customer service requires a proactive approach and continuous improvement, especially in the digital age. While a bad offering can be fixed with good customer service, bad customer service can severely impact your bottom line.

Here are just a few surprising statistics:

  • 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

  • Acquiring a new customer compared to retaining an existing one costs 6 to 7 times as much.

  • Probability of selling to any new customers is 5 to 20 percent compared to 60 to 70 percent to an existing customer.

Maintaining customers, and doing so with excellent customer service, will not only save your organization money, but will create loyal customers and generate positive press while doing so.


If superb customer service is the goal, an organization must first have excellent work culture and employee engagement so they can then service their customers effectively.

“Organizations with effective workplace cultures outperform their competitors by 20 to 30 percent,” says Gareau. “And even more astonishing, engaged employees generate more than 40 percent revenue than disengaged ones.”

It’s easy to see that every employee in the organization is either enhancing or harming your customer service, not just the ones in the customer service department.

In order to attain an efficient workplace culture and employee engagement, organizations have to work on three things:

  • Personal accountability

  • Dealing with differences of opinion

  • Empowering employees


What happens when mistakes are made? What happens when goals or deadlines are missed? These are questions you have to ask yourself upon observing employee incidents. Gareau says some things you’ll see when people are actively avoiding accountability are missing deadlines, excuses, avoiding initiatives, lacking interest and more.

To combat these accountability issues, it is important that all employees hold each other accountable, while also being cohesive and trusting of one another. Building these relationships will encourage people to work for each other rather than working for themselves. This will, in turn, enhance workplace culture and collaboration.


A difference of opinion is not always a negative circumstance. It can be good if it builds trust or increases clarity. However, if it creates morale issue or diverts energy from higher priorities, it can be a major problem. Some causes of these issues are disagreements on methods, objectives or communication styles.

Gareau says that these issues can be resolved with four simple guidelines:

  • Outline the values of the company

  • Align them to the business plan

  • Confirm that these objectives adhere to organization’s goals

  • Give and accept feedback


When we hire someone, we are trusting that person to do a job to the best of their ability and they are trusting that their goals align with that of the organization. If we do not trust an employee to represent the company well or to give excellent customer service, why were they hired in the first place?


This is a key issue in the workplace, Gareau said, and it needs to be addressed. Here are a few ways you can help empower employees to do their best work:

  • Communicate a clear vision and mission: Explain why their job is critical to the organization, not just how to do it.

  • Demonstrate trust: Define the goal, not how to get there.

  • Get to know people: Make time to engage with each employee 1:1 so they feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns.

  • Show your appreciation: “Thanks” goes a long way for a job well done, don’t be afraid to say it more often.

Customer service is only as good as the employees. The more employees enjoy working for an organization, the more compelled they will be to exceptionally serve its customers. After all, when it comes to customer service, it’s not the “know-how” that matters, it’s the “know-why”.

For more information and to purchase education program recordings, visit

Join over 32,000 industry peers who receive construction industry news and trends each week. Subscribe to CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365.