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April 10, 2020
Kate Marshall

The link between happy employees and happy customers

What happens when you delight one of your customers? Likely, that happy customer will tell a few friends (up to 11, to be exact), make an effort to repurchase from you, and become an ambassador for your awesome brand.

If you disappointed that customer instead, they would tell more like 15-20 friends about their terrible experience, work with your competitor next time, and would be likely to publish a negative review. The worst part is, when your disappointed customer switches providers, they’ll even be willing to pay them more if their service is great. It’s pretty important that you push to have as many happy customers as possible but… how?

Yes, happy customers are good for business

Right, so you’re thinking: “OK, that’s a bit obvious…” but there’s more than a passing correlation between customer delight and business longevity.

When a customer is unhappy with your products, customer service, purchase process, or brand decisions, effects are exponential. The opposite is also true. More customers report and review bad experiences than good ones. This means your reputation could take a massive hit from just a few less-than-perfect customer service calls.

Happy customers are 5x more likely to recommend your company on experience than on the product itself. All of your excellent product and service improvements won’t show an ROI without the stellar service to back it up. 

The reality of business in 2020:

  • In the 2020s, 89% of businesses will be competing primarily on their customer experience. 
  • Globally, 96% of consumers report customer service and treatment as the chief factor in their loyalty to a brand, regardless of product satisfaction or impact.
  • 67% of consumers are happy to pay more for a great experience, and that number increases to 74% for B2B buyers.

What we know now is this: Customers will pay more for a great experience. They'll also stay loyal to you if you can provide it, and leave you if you can’t provide it.

If that reality is one that threatens your business, there’s good news. Increasing customer retention rates by even just 5% could increase profits by at least 25%—and up to 95%. You just need to make them happy and keep them that way. 

Where do unhappy customers come from? 

An excellent customer experience could bolster your reputation. You'll build loyalty, earn word-of-mouth referrals of new customers, and earn more per sale. An unfortunate customer experience could mar your reputation, too. You'll break down loyalty, and have you losing the customers you did have,failing to earn new ones.

If that seems like a big deal, you’ll be happy to know that you already hold the key to unlocking customer satisfaction. Your employees make all the difference.

When your customer is frustrated with a missing product, had a negative encounter with a CSR, or had a complicated, friction-filled time trying to purchase from you at all, your employees take the heat. You might chalk all that frustration up to employees who didn’t perform their tasks correctly, but the accountability is fluid. It’s more important to analyze the cause for this breakdown—and it’s likely your employees are faltering because they’re unhappy! 

Happy employees will attract and retain happy customers 

Whether your customer growth goals hinge on building an audience or building loyalty, your employees’ satisfaction will keep things moving. Here’s how:

Happy employees go beyond the bare minimum. 

Someone who feels acknowledged and appreciated at work will go above and beyond. This is especially important because today, your customers have a higher standard for excellence than ever before. If your customer has a specific need, makes a special request, or has made a complex order, a happy employee will be the most thorough and committed to delivering on those needs.

Happy employees remember and retain more.

Stress and overwhelm are a leading cause of forgetfulness and slips of memory. When your employee forgets to include something in an order or overlooks responding to a customer service ticket, your customers could be left to deal with the outcome. If your employee feels appropriately challenged without stress and fatigue at work, they’ll be more likely to remember a customer’s specific preferences and exceed expectations.

Did you know:

Recognition & rewards can help alleviate workplace stress!

Happy employees listen, learn, and adapt.
An unhappy employee will respond less positively to feedback, questions, complaints, concerns, or constructive criticism. If you want your employees to hear customer concerns, triage them, and act on that feedback, you’ll need to model that action. Start by acquiring employee feedback and making action plans catered toward what you learn. Then, teach your employees to do the same for your customers! 

Happy employees are polite and positive.

A big, central theme in this article is service. Your customers want to be treated positively, politely, and productively by your employees. Unhappy employees are more likely to express frustration, disinterest, fatigue, overwhelm, and defensiveness toward your customers while happy employees can keep a lid on frustration and find solutions instead.

Happy employees collaborate better.

Your customers need your team to work well together. Customer service representatives need to have access to marketers and sales teams, technical experts and executives to get issues addressed. Marketers and sales teams need to work with subject matter experts in the organization and with customer service to triage issues they find.

No matter which teams interplay naturally in the workday, it’s important that everyone on board is ready to go all-hands to get customer needs met. Unhappy employees create rifts in the organization while happy workers mesh well to get things done.

Employee attitudes are contagious

Your happiest employees will spread that joy and energy to colleagues and customers. Your most unhappy and dissatisfied employees will spread that boredom or irritation the same way—even if it’s unintentional. How each employee feels and engages throughout the day will therefore become foundational to your organizational culture as a whole. 

How to make your employees happier in 4 steps: 

Great, so happy employees are the key to happy customers. That insight only works for those equipped to adapt to it.

4 simple steps to employee and customer happiness:

One: Listen

Your employees want to feel seen and heard. Get their feedback and act on it. Help them represent their needs and vocalize concerns to executives. Give them a voice to express what’s working (and not working).

Two: Recognize

Salaries, benefits, and bonuses are great, but they aren’t the only thing keeping your employees in place. Offer perks, recognition programs, peer-to-peer acknowledgment, and natural, public praise to keep people feeling connected and valued.

Three: Equip

Give your employees every opportunity to succeed. Equip your employees to succeed through the tech they use, the information they can access, and the direction they need. Make sure project management bottlenecks, lack of executive access, or tech breakdowns don’t get in the way of giving your employees and customers a great experience end-to-end.

Four: Empower

Give your employees the trust and clearance to make decisions that positively benefit your customers. Give your customer service team the tools and understanding to issue an express refund, expedite an order, or provide a more nuanced experience for a customer. Make sure your sales, engineering, product, and marketing teams stay informed, up to date, and well-briefed on what customers want. Ensure that all workers have the tools, equipment, access, and understanding necessary to provide a great experience. 

The takeaway here is about humanity. Your employees are people want respect, acknowledgement, and a chance to succeed. Your customers want clarity, ease, and results in a way that your employees are equipped to provide. If you give your employees the tools and atmosphere to succeed at work, you’re also giving your customers the experience they need to make purchases and build loyalty with you. 

If you want to build a trusting, committed network of customers who love you, it starts with your employees. Love them first. 

Zestful: recognize and reward your employees—minus the admin work.

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