All modern businesses see the need for excellent customer service and ESOP companies take it one step further. Each employee a customer speaks to is an owner who not only has an understanding of the value of exceeding expectations, but also has a direct stake in the business’ success. This creates a huge incentive for employee-owners to go above and beyond to help customers. Two 100% employee-owned ESCA Board companies that are going the extra mile for their customers are Lifetouch Inc. and WinCo Foods.
Lifetouch is an employee-owned photography company, and with over 70 years of experience, the company has emerged as a leader in the photography industry by providing quality childhood, student and family photographs, along with other valuable memory keepsakes. Much of their success is attributed to their strong employee ownership culture and a focus on customer service. Indeed, Lifetouch addresses customer service in its original vision and values: “We are committed to excellence and total customer satisfaction in our performance and pledge to professionally carry out our responsibilities”. In order to honor this pledge, Lifetouch continuously reinvests and reexamines its technology and processes to go above and beyond what the public expects from a typical photography company.
WinCo Foods, a supermarket chain with 86 stores in the western United States, makes customer service and satisfaction a top priority. WinCo’s employee-ownership model consistently encourages their employees to go the extra mile, which affects the way they assist their customers in a meaningful way. While similar to Lifetouch in its commitment to service, the food store chain prides itself on constant direct contact between customers and employee-owners. WinCo implemented an online survey allowing customers to rate their recent experience at a WinCo Foods store. This service allows patrons to give reliable, honest feedback in a space where customers are most comfortable, but also allows WinCo to see overarching themes or deficiencies in their customers’ experiences.
While everyone in the business world knows the importance of customer service, employee-owned companies have a unique advantage in the ability to achieve these goals. Employee-owners going above and beyond the call of duty are the reason customers return time and time again to employee-owned companies. Lifetouch and WinCo Foods are excellent examples of two different yet successful approaches to solving customers’ needs.