According to a study done a number of years ago, customer satisfaction is predominantly determined by the positive or negative attitude of the employee the customer interfaces with. Customers overwhelmingly responded that a positive attitude impacted their satisfaction with the experience by 93 percent.
Why? When a customer calls your company, he or she expects that the employee will have the information required to perform the job; the customer believes the employee will be intelligent or she wouldn’t have the job and the customer also expects that the employee has the skill to respond to needs.
What today’s customers don’t expect is a positive attitude. As consumers, we have come to expect that our interaction will be with an unhappy, disgruntled, dissatisfied employee.
If a positive attitude is absolutely critical to customer satisfaction, what is management’s role in making it happen? According to Christopher Groening from the University of Missouri, management’s role is to provide a high level of employee satisfaction which in turn leads to a high level of customer satisfaction.
The study said: “The link between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty is almost twice as strong when you have high employee satisfaction compared to when they are not satisfied with their jobs. This double-positive finding stands in contrast to the idea that a firm can neglect to satisfy their employees as long as they pursue customer satisfaction.”
So how do you create an environment for high levels of employee satisfaction so those employees will then create high levels of customer satisfaction. Here are a few tips:
1) Eliminate poisonous employees sooner rather than later. Even if the employee is a revenue generator, get rid of them. The cost to the company in terms of the turmoil, and negative impact on other employees and customers is far greater than the revenue being produced by that one disgruntled employee.
2) Modeling. Employees are expected to be enthusiastic, congenial, and unflappable when dealing with customers. Do you always display those same behaviors when dealing with customers and your employees?
3) Define and communicate roles. Each employee needs a specific job description and list of duties and responsibilities. Openly communicate with all employees and provide your perspective on how and when jobs overlap and your expectations of who should be doing what. With that said, all employees must also understand your company is a team. We help each other out. Words such as, “That’s not my job” are not acceptable. At times, even management, must provide back-up so the customer remains the top priority.
4) Set individual goals and provide incentives. Team goals are good. Set goals such as sales and profits that everyone can celebrate and benefit from. In addition, set individual goals tied to incentives based on the individual employee. For example, if one technician has an average ticket of $225, his goal and incentive should be tied to increasing it to $250. And the employee, whose average ticket is $250 could have a goal and benefit level of $275.
5) Share company performance. Everyone should know the sales goals and understand the costs of doing business. Employees don’t have to know your salary, but they should understand how their behaviors and their individual job impact the numbers.
6) Train and empower employees to make decisions. You may tell yourself that you empower your employees and that it drives you crazy when they come to you for every decision. But be honest, doesn’t it kind of make you feel irreplaceable and all important. While we often see excellent management who have empowered their employees, we also see plenty of two other types: those who have to make all the decisions and those who will make no decisions and then become angry when the right decision (translated: the way you would have done it) is not made. They key to empowerment is communicating your expectations and allowing your employees to make mistakes. Mistakes are certainly discussed, but punishment in all forms – including eye rolling, negative body language, upbraiding in front of others- is eliminated.
A positive work environment and positive employees are contagious. In fact, your customers catch it every time.