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Focus on employees to improve customer relationships

To thrive, businesses need loyal, satisfied customers.

To thrive, businesses need loyal, satisfied customers. Not only are patrons more likely to return after a positive experience, they're also prone to spread the word about their satisfactory encounter among their friends and social media networks. For that reason, business leaders are focusing on customer relationships in 2014.

According to The Conference Board CEO Challenge 2014, improving customer relationships was the second highest priority for executives in the coming year, following employee engagement. It's no coincidence that these two goals top the list together – time and again, engaged workers are tied to better performance and, ultimately, happier customers.

Consumers' primary point of contact with a business is the employee that they interact with, whether it's their sales representative or the clerk who checks out their purchase. Entrepreneur noted that engaged workers are more likely to be passionate about their jobs, which easily translates into more helpful, informed service. Beyond front-line encounters, motivated workers can also contribute to customer satisfaction by creating better products, since employee engagement tends to inspire productivity and innovation.

Supervisors can encourage their workers to be more engaged through strategies like reward and recognition programs, which provide incentives for better performance and acknowledge achievements.

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