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Engage Or Break Up (Not A Blog About Dating)…

The phenomenon of internal marketing:  the management philosophy that coordinates internal exchanges between the organization and its employees to achieve successful external exchanges between the firm and its customers (Thank you, Clemson University’s Foundations of Marketing course).  The basic idea behind this trend is that achieving satisfaction among your external customers is much easier when there is a high level of satisfaction among your internal customers (aka the employees).  Simply stated, happiness is infectious.

Following this theory, a company’s efforts to create a better quality of life internally will produce positive outcomes externally.  Although in its extreme form this viewpoint suggests that building a company fitness facility is the fast track to increasing sales, the concept of internal marketing is more suitably directed toward better attracting, retaining and engaging internal customers.  Hosting fun company outings, creating beneficial profit sharing plans, giving back to the community and implementing improved vacation plans are all easy ways to get started.

So often we view our competitive advantage from the outside perspective; we aim to identify why prospects become customers, the aspects of our core competency, and we ask ourselves at what area are we best in the world?  These are all crucial questions in strategic planning.  Often overlooked, however, is viewing these questions through the internal lens.  Why should someone want to join our team?  What do our employees perceive as being the greatest advantage of employment with the organization?  Asking your current employees these questions is crucial, but they’re already partial believers.  What about the people who decide to leave?  Employees who resign—that was our untapped internal market segment for constructive feedback.

Sam Walton, according to the case studies, targeted the shoppers who never became buyers; he asked people leaving WalMart without purchases, not those with, the various ‘why’ questions of customer service.  Why didn’t you buy anything? We have found inspiration in this strategy and have applied it to our internal customers through exit interviews.  What could we have done to better engage you as an associate?  How did (or didn’t) BGP help to fulfill your career goals?  If you have already signed on for a new job, what does this new position offer that we failed to offer?  These are some of the questions we ask.  I believe you learn more from defeat than you do from success, which in the long run, transforms this temporary defeat into an opportunity for the future.

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