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The Happy Employees-Happy Customers Equation

May 09, 2008

“Happiness in the workplace is a strategic advantage. Service comes from the heart, and people who feel cared for will care more.”
- Hal G. Rosenbluth, author of The Customer Comes Second


Research confirms the self-reinforcing relationship between employee- and customer satisfaction. From the 1997 classic, The Service Profit Chain, to the latest Wharton study on the bottom line impact of employee satisfaction, we have plenty of evidence that happy employees can lead to happy customers.

But do happy employees guarantee happy customers?

While the “happy employees = happy customers” equation is oversimplified, the reality is it’s difficult to have one without the other. It’s important to also consider the other extreme of how unhappy employees affect customers, particularly when employees are frustrated in their efforts to serve customers.
 Customers are quick to pick up on signals of employee dissatisfaction, whether conveyed inadvertently or deliberately. Think about your own experience as a customer dealing with:

• Employees who genuinely want to help customers but are hampered by a lack of internal support.
• Employees who lack the organizational or product knowledge to sufficiently serve customers. Or who may not be clued-in to the messages or promises that have been communicated to customers.
• A revolving door of new employees stemming from high turnover (rather than organizational growth).

Experience with one or more of these situations can reflect negatively on an organization and put it at risk for customer dissatisfaction, lost business and, ultimately, brand damage. Here’s why.

Unhappy customers are not only capable of taking their business away from you, they may harm your existing and potential business by publicly airing and sharing their complaints.

Overcoming this negative talk was somewhat manageable, pre-internet, when dissatisfied customers would share their experience with five or ten people. Today, however, “word-of-mouth” has become “word-of-mouse” with disgruntled customers going online to get their own form of retribution.

Unhappy customers know how to leverage consumer generated media to reach millions of people with a single click. The internet has enabled them to become vocal, human megaphones who use every opportunity to express their dissatisfaction and displeasure to others through blogs and “your company sucks.com” websites.

With so much at stake, who can afford to ignore the happy employees-happy customers equation?

Information courtesy of Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care


Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?

Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?