Smart and modern business leaders understand that happy customers aren’t just repeat customers but they also amplify the company’s message by telling their friends. One study shows that dissatisfied customers spread the word about their negative experience to an average of 18 people. Whether it is through word of mouth or through social media channels, businesses that only focus on the bottom line are likely missing the big picture. So listen up because it’s true, keeping employees and customers happy directly impacts profit and productivity by leading to lower employee turnover and more satisfied customers.
Trust Your Employees
Nordstrom’s #1 and ONLY rule is for employees to use good judgment. A gray 5×8 card, similar to the one on the right, actually used to be the Nordstrom Employee Handbook. By allowing employees to use their judgement Nordstrom has created a culture where employees go above and beyond to honor the trust they have been given. By respecting their employees’ ability to make the right decision in all situations Nordstrom has continued to attract top talent. They were named by Fortune Magazine one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Nordstrom has continually increased their sales profits. Even when the economic forecast isn’t so sunny, the retail giant continues to show growth year after year.
Remember that line from the Godfather “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business”? Michael Corleone had no idea what he was talking about. It’s certainly not the way customers like to be treated. Business IS personal, and when doing business customers want to speak to a live person and fast. Statistics show 75% percent of customers say it takes too long to reach a live agent on the phone. It’s so frustrating that 67% of them end up hanging up.
Zappos understands that customers will buy from the company with the best service and selection and as part of their vision their customer service centers are staffed with real people who answer the phone every time. Seriously, their customer service center takes calls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2010 they used some funny actual customer calls as a part of an ad campaign to show us their great service.
The Importance of Listening
Listening is vital to keep both employees and customers happy. It’s the easiest way to connect with others, but in an age of endless distractions it seems to be one of the hardest things to do. Even if you don’t agree with someone let them have the floor, the simple act of listening can diffuse a tense situation. When we listen, experts say, we create a bond of respect, trust and goodwill. It also helps to increase productivity and faster problem solving.
Once you’ve mastered the skill of listening, it’s your turn to talk. Providing feedback is important for reps who thrive on praise and building relationships. It’s nice for employees to know not only where they stand, but what they are doing right and how they can improve. When employees know what is expected of them and how to reach those goals, they have the tools to succeed.
This goes for customer feedback too. As great as it is to hear the good things, companies need to take negative feedback and act on it to improve their business. People feel important knowing their opinions matter. Acknowledging their complaints and suggestions may turn a negative experience into a positive one and keep them as loyal customers to your brand. Research shows 79% of consumers who complain about a negative experience are ignored, and 89% end up going to a competitor following a poor experience.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
Tell the truth at all times. Transparency can be a scary thing for a business. Things aren’t always perfect but customers understand that. Being transparent can be a competitive advantage for a company and it helps create trust with both employees and customers.
You would think this is an obvious one, and it should be. Showing gratitude to both your employees and customers can go a long way. Studies show the simple act of saying “Thank You” doesn’t only change a person’s outlook of a situation but promotes a spirit of goodwill that “pays forward” to others. SurePayroll CEO Michael Alter credits his company’s record-setting growth rate with showing gratitude to his employees. Every five years employees are thanked for their services with an all-expenses paid four-day vacation with a guest.
These tips don’t only work in the business world but also in your own life. Try them outside of the office too. Happiness is contagious so go spread some joy!