Happy Employee = Happy Customer

The secret is…there is no secret. If you are looking for continuously happy customers, then make sure you have happy employees.

How do you create a culture for employees in which they feel comfortable going the extra mile to ensure the customer is satisfied? It is not magic, it is method. Disney employees do not check with their manager every time a decision is made to enlist an extra smile from a park-goer…it comes naturally.

Studies have shown that companies with an extraordinary customer experience gross an average of 25% more than their competitors. The goal is recommendations and repeat business from your current customer base, and emotionally engaged customers are much more likely to do both!

In today’s world, there are so many chances for a customer to engage with your brand; online chat portals, social media networks, and in-person. It is even more important to produce an exceptional experience. Yet, it is still difficult for company initiatives to make a difference improving the customer experience where it matters most, the front-line employees. From call center agents, to website experiences – the focus is not on the customer, it is on getting the sale.

How to create a great customer experience

Your customer’s experience boils down to retaining great people; they are the ones interacting with your customers on a daily basis. When you look after them, they will look after your client. But, how do you put this theory into practice? Through our experience, we have found that organization implement four habits.

  1. Hear your employees when they speak

Treat your employees as you would like to be treated. The age-old saying still stands, but taking it a step further can really go the extra mile. Do they have issues and needs? Try to get personally involved to help solve them. Your employees need to know what channels are in place for them to express their concerns. Do you have open meetings, an anonymous employee survey every quarter, or a direct supervisor they can confidently speak to? Communication is key, and when you are trying to help resolve a problem, let them know exactly what you are doing, timelines, and ask to see if the employee would like to get directly involved in the solution.

What if your team’s complaint was of stiffness, and eyestrain; would you commission an ergonomics team to assess their workstations? A Chilean bank did just this, and employee morale increased, as well as the culture of listening and trust

We understand there are limits to what you can do, but taking action in the fashion you are allowed with demonstrate your commitment to them. This is what matters most.

Clearly there are limits to what management can do, but by taking tangible action to address employees’ concerns, you demonstrate the strength of your commitment to your front line.

  1. Hire their attitude – then reinforce as needed

It makes sense; if you want friendly customer service, hire friendly people. It is extremely hard to train for a good attitude, but you can always train for better skills. For example, JetBlue, consistently rated for excellent customer service, brings people in a group interview first, and watches the interaction with other candidates and the panel. A skill that could not be found in a one-on-one interview environment.

When you hire people with the right attitude, the behavior needs to be reinforced by leaders. Disney hires a full janitorial staff, but it would not be a surprise to see a leader picking up a piece of trash in the bathroom. As Disney instills, “Every leader is telling a story about what they value.”

  1. Don’t set rules, give your people a purpose

Of course, there are standard operating procedures across large corporations that need to be defined, but it is important to understand that these “rules” only go so far. For example, your front-line employees may not be able to find every answer in a manual that is needed when it comes to customer service, and following a script may deliver a bad taste in a potential customer’s mouth. The companies that supply their front-line teams with a common purpose, and clear quality standards will rate higher in satisfaction every day of the week.

Common purpose – a very clear explanation of the emotional customer experience you would like to create. By defining this for your team, motivation and meaning becomes embedded in their work. Your employee can now choose to go the extra mile through personal drive, and not submissive compliance. Disney’s common purpose is “we create happiness”, and you can tell.

It is important to align your common purpose with a set of clear quality standards. How would you like your employee to act in accordance with your common purpose? Setting clear expectations for your team, rather than a set of strict rules, allows employees to feel valued, and inevitably – empowered. Your customers will feel the shift.

  1. Allow your employees to bring their creativity

When your front-line team feels comfortable solving a problem without waiting to ask, there is a sense of ownership that motivates them to do what is possible to enhance the customer experience. The best companies understand that the company can learn from their employees on what the customer wants. Save time and money on market research, and allow your front-line to provide your insights. This means your company must have a rock-solid way to funnel information from “the bottom” to the top; and make sure you have leaders that will act on the findings.

For example, Wawa allows their store managers to have a large say in what they sell. They understand that their on-site team has better insight than a desk analyst. Profits have soared once this culture shift happened, and now one Wawa may have a large coffee bar and more fresh food options than another.

The trusting relationship companies wish to have with customers is still built one interaction at a time. Your people are hired to develop these relationships. To conclude, create emotional, long-lasting bonds with your customers by engaging your employees, and making sure they are happy first.

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