Executive Education

The Secret to Customer Satisfaction

It’s simply understood: When your partner is happy, chances are you feel good, too. The same holds true in the relationship between your employees and customers. Workers provide the best service when they’re satisfied and supported by their employers.

This dynamic is human nature. People like to help other people when they are happy and have their needs met. In a business setting, meeting employees’ needs often comes down to providing a healthy company culture. While every organization is different, great cultures share some universal traits — recognition and support for workers chief among them.

Customer Happiness Depends on Employee Satisfaction

We’ve all been on the receiving end of poor customer service, and a single interaction with a disgruntled worker leaves a seriously bad impression about the brand. That makes it even more important to ensure employees are genuinely happy in their work environment.

Plenty of companies pay homage to the idea that happy employees make for happy customers, at least in theory. But how many integrate this philosophy into their corporate cultures? Employee happiness needs to be more than a platitude hung on a wall if it’s to have any real impact on your business.

Employees make or break public perception of your brand. Customers who experience world-class service, friendliness, and responsiveness from your team often become brand ambassadors. Their recommendations are incredibly valuable, as 74 percent of people surveyed in one study said word-of-mouth recommendations strongly influenced their buying decisions.

So how do you nurture satisfaction and engagement among your team? Culture is dictated from the top down, so it’s up to your executive team to set the standard for how people are treated.

Showing genuine interest and sending regular positive vibes leads to happy employees. And when they’re feeling happy, they’ll be inclined to spread that joy to your customers.

Implement the following strategies to boost employee happiness and, in turn, the customer experience:

  1. Encourage employees to bond with one another and with customers.

    Workers who feel connected to their colleagues are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs than those who feel isolated or disenfranchised. Create opportunities for employees to get to know one another — and the executive team — outside the office. Retreat days, happy hours, spontaneous lunches, and even casual coffee meetings are great ways to get people chatting. When they return to their desks, they’ll feel closer to their teammates (and, therefore, more inspired to support one another through their work).

    Encourage them to carry that close-knit mentality into their customer interactions. Long-term customer retention is critical for your business’s sustainability, and you achieve that loyalty through good relationships. Train employees to go above and beyond when taking customer service calls. Empower them to offer upgrades or discounts at their discretion, which will delight customers and endear your team members to them. Entrusting people with that kind of freedom inspires deep pride in their work.

  1. Celebrate your team members’ unique personalities.

    When people feel accepted for who they are, they’re inspired to participate fully in their organizations. Invite people to share interesting anecdotes about themselves, and encourage willing employees to take initiative when it comes to teaching co-workers new skills. For instance, organize an after-hours jam session led by an IT team member who also happens to be a great guitarist. Let another employee who’s an amateur chef lead a sushi-rolling class in the communal kitchen during lunch one day.

    Such events foster a sense of community and show people you value their unique traits. By not forcing superficial professionalism on your team members, you enable them to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with their peers and customers.

  1. Hire people who are cultural fits.

    “Possessing the right skills is only part of the equation,” says Judi Hand, TeleTech’s executive vice president, growth services. “It is also important for candidates to fit the company’s culture.” Evaluate potential hires according to your cultural standards. Include employees who best embody your culture in the interview process because they’ll be able to spot people who will complement the team — and those who will clash with it.

    Hiring people whose values and personalities align with the organization’s culture makes it easier to ensure a cohesive customer experience. If you’re going to give people autonomy in how they handle customer issues, you want to know you can trust them with that responsibility.

  1. Connect employees’ roles to the company’s mission.Publish your mission and vision statements, but treat them as living documents. Instruct managers to reference these regularly and to articulate how employees’ work relates to the bigger picture. When they praise staff members for a job well done, make sure they reinforce the behaviors that align with the broader culture. Michael Manning of Rocksauce Studios recommends inserting core values into performance reviews, monthly check-ins, and daily huddles to drive home the connection to people’s day-to-day responsibilities. 

    Employee happiness correlates directly to customer satisfaction, and customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of your business. By investing in your staff and building a supportive, positive culture, you’re doing your customers — and your bottom line — a favor.

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Dan Geraty
Dan Geraty is founder and CEO of Clearent, a full-service payment processor. It has earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list for five straight years and continues to climb Nilson Report’s list of Top Merchant Acquirers in the U.S.