As someone responsible for reaching out to global customers and prospects at one of the world’s largest multi-industry companies, Siisi Adu-Gyamfi spends a lot of time writing letters that never leave the company.
“Employees need to feel that they are respected and valued,” says the Textron Inc. Senior Vice President, International and Marketing, who had to be pulled away from a busy schedule by two of his public relations colleagues to sit down for this interview. “Sending an employee a hand-written note -- or calling them or e-mailing them -- to express appreciation for their work really goes a long way. I probably send about 100 notes per year.”
Adu-Gyamfi’s appreciation for employees reflects the importance the $13.2 billion manufacturer places on employee engagement; it’s one of the four premier metrics – along with customer loyalty – the executive team uses to evaluate and manage the entire company’s performance. And Adu-Gyamfi views employee engagement as part of a three-legged stool of success in his marketing realm.
“If employees are not happy, guess what?” he asserts. “When customers call on the phone, they can tell from the employee’s voice that he or she is not willing to go the extra mile to help them.”
That satisfaction and loyalty – which Textron define as being willing to recommend one of Textron’s products or services to someone else – is the second leg of the stool. Engaged employees and satisfied, loyal customers help create the third leg, happy shareholders, by generating profitability and market share gains.
Textron is known for its brands, which include Cessna Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, E-Z-GO golf carts and others. Customer satisfaction and loyalty are continually measured on a seven-point customer loyalty index (CLI), which is created through interviews with numerous employees – 15-20 is a common range – among customer companies. Adu-Gyamfi emphasizes the importance of applying the CLI by business segment rather than by business or on an enterprise-wide basis. The needs and issues customers have differ by business, but also within businesses. For Textron to adequately address these unique needs and issues, Adu-Gyamfi’s team and their operations partners need precise data.
“This approach gives us information that is actionable,” Adu-Gyamfi notes. “The last thing you want is to have something soft and fluffy out there.”
The customer loyalty surveys, index and follow-up improvement efforts were introduced as part of an ongoing enterprise-wide transformation that began in 2001. Six Sigma was implemented shortly thereafter and continues to evolve. The methodology’s emphasis on the importance of measuring and improving processes helped smooth the adoption of the CLI in all business segments, notes Adu-Gyamfi.
The process by which the CLI is applied to customers “has become standard work to us,” says Adu-Gyamfi. “Everyone in our marketing and service organizations knows the processes they need to go through to get to know what our customers are thinking.”
Since many Textron business segments relay on dealer channels to sell products to customers, the CLI data sometimes requires collaborative action with dealers. Textron will send Six Sigma black belts to dealer sites to address service issues identified in the CLI, for example. The channel partners understand the importance of this collaboration. “When there are customer-related problems we want to know quickly so we can go fix them quickly,” he says. “And our channel partners know we feel that way because our reputation is at stake.”
The building blocks of that reputation, as Adu-Gyamfi emphasizes again when the interview concludes, begin inside the organization with employees. “Now that we’re finished,” he adds as he rises from his chair, “I’ll go back to my desk and send these two [public relations colleagues] nice thank-you notes for arranging this call and making sure I was on time for it.”
The three of them laugh, but Textron’s other employees, customers and shareholders are smiling, too, and that’s no joke when it comes to generating loyalty and profits.