Yes, we all want engaged customers. Awesome products can create customer engagement (think: Apple). A unique customer experience can build customer engagement. But there's nothing quite like engaged, enthusiastic employees to inspire engagement among customers, particularly new customers or those on the fence.
In other words, employee engagement--especially among customer-facing employees--is as important as customer engagement, because the former is often essential to the latter. Consider my recent experience
Last weekend I set out on a hunt for new sneakers. I visited several stores along my journey, but the one that stood out most was the Nike store--for one simple reason: the staff. Not just because they were pleasant and helpful--the salesperson at Lady Footlocker was both of those things--but because they love Nike products. One salesperson said, with gusto, "I love working here because it's like having the best closet ever." Her face was alight when she said it. She wasn't talking to me; she was talking to a colleague as they passed by me. But it made an impression nonetheless. The associate at checkout was equally enamored of Nike. She told me that she loves the style sneaker I bought so much that she has them in every color (that's four or five, by the way), never leaves the for the gym without a pair in her gym bag, and often wears them "just around" because they're so comfortable.
That alone is engaging. As a customer you feel like you're making a great decision with you purchase of a particular brand because the employees of that brand think so highly of it themselves. In addition, the service at the Nike store was pretty great. The salesperson I worked with asked all the right questions, made recommendations, and even called over another salesperson to share her personal experience wearing two of the three sneakers styles I was trying on. No hard sell; lots of storytelling.
Overall, my visit to the Nike store was a great customer experience. Sure, I love the super-cool sneakers I ultimately purchased. But most engaging was Nike's employees--who are clearly among the brands biggest fans. What that translates to that matters most: Next time I need new sneakers or other exercise gear, my first stop will be Nike.
Are your employees enthusiastic supporters of your brand?