Everyone knows that the customer is key and that satisfied customers who return and make recommendations to their friends create success for companies. But a recent study from the University of Missouri suggests that happy employees are almost as important as happy customers.
Managers who not only focus on customer satisfaction but also on employees' job satisfaction can boost both customer good will and "repurchase intentions." In these situations, buyers wind up returning not only for the merchandise, but for the customer service as well.
"You might think that as an owner, you only need to pay attention to the customers, providing them with what they want. Yet, we found that keeping your employees satisfied with their work experience, providing them with challenges and allowing them to have a sense of ownership in the business can have a tremendous effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty," said Christopher Groening, assistant professor of marketing at the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business.
"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."
The research team reviewed a European retail franchise system that has approximately 300 outlets with 933 employees and more than 20,700 customers. Satisfaction data was obtained from both employees and customers.
Groening recommends the following actions, based on answers from the employee survey questions, to increase employee satisfaction:
- Train and empower employees so that they have the tools to make decisions. This allows them to make decisions that are beneficial for the company and each individual customer -- instead of following a simple flowchart and possibly upsetting a customer with the final outcome.
- Hire managers who serve as examples and also can be mentors to employees. If a company policy is established, it should be honored by managers as well as other employees. Additionally, managers should help employees know what is expected in order to advance in the company.
- Create a good working atmosphere. Offer incentives or intangible benefits, such as flexible working hours, if possible.
"While many of these actions might seem like common sense, they can be very difficult to maintain," Groening said. It's important to keep managers and employees informed, and let them know you're trying to make work more satisfying for them.
You might want to keep your boss informed, by showing them the results of this study!
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