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How Happy Employees Lead to Happy Customers

Posted by Kate Seat on 2/12/15 10:00 PM
Topics: college store customer service, retail management, student employees

It can happen any day: an interaction between one of your staff members and a customer goes sour, and that potential sale is lost. Even worse, in this climate of total exposure through social media, what may have been a slight snag transforms into a very public snafu. We've shared some techniques for dealing with that particular situation, but what if the interaction could have been steered in another direction entirely?

When your employees are happy, they'll go out of their way to ensure that they are representing you and your store in a positive way. This excerpt from a post by Jamie Nichol for Business2Community explains why these two factors are so entwined:

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It’s not just speculation, these two elements really are deeply connected. Here is a sampling of studies that support this conclusion:

  • A study conducted by Washington State University determined that customer satisfaction is directly linked to employee satisfaction and that financial success is directly linked to customer satisfaction. Therefore, employee engagement is indirectly, yet importantly, linked to financial performance.
  • Bain & Company studies indicate that employee behavior and attitude is one of the most significant drivers of customer satisfaction. Engaged employees not only spread their enthusiasm to customers, but they also are more dedicated to providing the best product and service to customers. For example, as Bain & Company explains, the “key ingredient” to JetBlue’s high customer ratings is that “JetBlue employees treat customers’ problems as their own.”

It Goes Both Ways

While the above studies show that engaged employees lead to satisfied customers, satisfied customers also play a role in employee engagement.

Positive customer experiences can reinforce how employees feel about the value and purpose of their work. While it’s important to learn from negative customer experiences, customer success stories serve as a paradigm for behavior and decision-making going forward. Therefore, managers and supervisors should highlight and recognize customer satisfaction to drive engagement.

Engagement Matters for Everyone

It’s easy to understand the connection between engagement in customer-facing positions (like sales and customer service) and customer satisfaction. However, it’s also important that those behind the scenes are engaged and dedicated to providing the best experience for customers.

According to a Towers Watson study, managers are a crucial driver for the culture and engagement in a company. Therefore, it’s necessary that they themselves are engaged and empowered to bring about positive behaviors.

This creates a ripple effect in the organization: when managers are engaged, those reporting to them are more likely to be engaged, and the customers interacting with these employees are more likely to be satisfied.

Unfortunately, studies indicate that those in customer-facing roles experience lower engagement. This is why a “one-size-fits-all” approach does not work for engagement or customer satisfaction. It’s important to understand the causes and hindrances of engagement within specific groups and levels, and what that means for customer satisfaction.

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