Looking to partner with a company? Choose one with high employee engagement

Jeff Coco

Over the years, I’ve noticed the type of impact engaged and passionate technical support employees can have on business partnerships. And I’ve come to realize that, more often than not, the level of support one business receives from its partner plays a major role in the type of ongoing relationship they have.

I believe there’s a simple reason this happens: Technical support professionals often work directly with clients on a consistent basis and therefore have the chance to make an immediate, direct impression that other employees, who are often working “behind the scenes,” may not always have the opportunity to do.

If you’re thinking about partnering with a company, I highly suggest working with one that employs passionate, engaged technical support specialists. After all, at some point, you’ll have to contact their technical support, and the level of service you receive could dictate how quickly your technical problem is resolved or question answered. In turn, this could impact how fast you and your employees get back to work.

In this post, I’ll discuss why it’s important to consider employee engagement when searching for business partners and suggest certain engagement metrics you can use to evaluate their fit.

Why should I pay attention to employee engagement?

Forging a strong business partnership takes more than simply shaking hands and signing a contract. It often takes weeks or even months for two companies to discuss the terms of their deal, and feel out whether or not they’re operating out of a position of strength.

The signs of a quality partnership are two sides that are equally enthusiastic about working together. Highly engaged employees are more likely to work productively, take less days off from work and even leave their companies for positions elsewhere, according to Gallup.

Several years ago, Jim Moran, professor of Business Administration in Florida State University’s College of Business, conducted a survey to study the engagement levels of 1,000 blue- and white-collar workers and how it impacted employers.

What he found wasn’t all that surprising, and it still stands the test of time many years later. Engaged employees had a 45 percent higher rate of performing well, a 33 percent lower rate of leaving their jobs and a 30 percent higher rate of committing to their employer.

“Engaged employees work harder, are more creative and more committed, and they represent an important predictor of company productivity,” Hochwarter said. “Unquestionably, organizations with engaged workers have weathered recessionary pressures more successfully.”

My point is this: It sounds simple and obvious, but I want to bring it up because it’s too often ignored: If you want to succeed, partner with a company that’s passionate about growing and succeeding with you.

Who are engaged employees?

Want to truly understand the impact engaged employees can have on a partnership? Start by evaluating your own workplace.

What do your employees accomplish each day? How well do they work together? Are they enthusiastic about coming to work, and are they excited about your company’s business ventures?

At Axis Communications, our technical support team prides itself on maintaining a high level of engagement throughout the customer’s journey from the first time they call until their problem is resolved.

Morgan Rode, technical services specialist, recently told me about the time he and his team worked with multiple stakeholders to resolve a customer’s technical challenge.

“We had a large customer out West where they were having different issues [with a solution], and we ended up, to resolve it, jumping on multiple conference calls every week until we resolved the problem,” explained Rode. “We partnered with the integrator, the end customer and also a video management provider to figure out what the problem was. And, hey, it took a little bit, but we got everything resolved because everyone worked together to fix it.”

To me, Morgan’s story is the definition of a highly engaged workforce. He followed up to credit Axis’ culture for the way him and his team responded.

“The unit culture of Axis’ solution center ensures the customer is always going to be first, meaning we want to help them bring their problem to a fix,” said Rode.

Engaged employees are ones who:

  1. Willingly stay with customers all of the way: Management encourages these employees to worry less about meeting certain metrics and more on solving problems efficiently and with a high degree of accuracy, as well as ensuring customers are happy with their level of service.
  2. Respond quickly to problems: Unexpected challenges always arise, but engaged employees are always there at a moment’s notice to resolve them.
  3. Enjoy working with and helping team members solve problems: If partnering with another company, you may find yourself working with colleagues from the other business. As you probably imagine, it’s important to work with colleagues who also want to and enjoy working with you.

How can I tell if a company employs engaged technical support employees?

To truly understand what it could be like to partner with a certain company, you’ll have to conduct some background research. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Their level of technical support: As I mentioned, call centers or support departments that focus entirely on average handle time (AHT) are likely to take shortcuts when trying to solve technical problems. As you might imagine, this can result in critical mistakes which in turn could lead to a deterioration of the partnership. Working with a technical support staff that stays with you all of the way will build trust and strengthen bonds.
  2. Their level of communication: If you have a question about a product, how easy is it for you to contact your partner anywhere and at anytime? At Axis, we provide our partners with a number of a communication channels and research materials so they can either contact  a technical specialist or find the answer on their own. These include call support, live chat, troubleshooting guides and cheat sheets, support videos and webinars, technical notes, developer pages, and software and firmware downloads.
  3. Their values and goals: Long-term, healthy partnerships encourage growth and enable the mutual exchange of ideas and processes. I believe it’s important to work with companies that share your desire to set clear goals and accomplish them in an ethically-sound manner. The more partners work together to solve problems the more they’ll accomplish.

Don’t hesitate to speak with various people across the organization from C-Suite executives to those in product development, shipping and receiving, technical support and other appropriate department in between. Obtaining a well-rounded sense of how a business operates starts by understanding how employees in each department work together and how they could impact your company and the overall partnership.

A partnership’s success hinges on how passionate, enthusiastic and engaged all parties are in nurturing the relationship, making improvements, solving issues immediately and working in unison to accomplish goals.