Conventional wisdom points toward customer satisfaction surveys as the best way to pinpoint what specifically draws the customer back or pushes them away. Long relied upon to explain a customer’s flitting from one company to another in search of the best experience, these surveys fall short of explaining the customer replies that pertain to the trust and respect of your employees.
Studies have shown that there is a direct link between satisfied employees and happy customers, so it makes good business sense to invest in discovering what your employees need to stay loyal and satisfied. This creates an environment of positive, helpful people ready to bend over backwards for the customer. The use of employee opinion surveys along with customer surveys gives a great overall picture of a company’s strengths and weaknesses and provides a blue print for developing a strong culture of loyal employees and customers.
What does having satisfied employees have to do with retaining customers? It has everything to do with losing developed or developing relationships, the reason behind almost every return customer. Companies who pay attention to their surveyed employees end up with a much lower turnover rate, which by itself saves them millions of dollars every year in rehiring costs as well as in lost customers. Seems outrageous, doesn’t it? Surely that lack of retention can’t possibly cost so much!
On average, though, the loss of one dissatisfied employee will result in about 150% of his or her yearly salary between advertising for a replacement, training the new person, lost productivity, and overtime of others to compensate while waiting for the new employee to get up to speed. When the lost employee is management, the number increases to closer to 200%. This isn’t even taking into consideration the loss of valuable knowledge and insight provided to the customer by the employee! No amount of training will replace the knowledge that comes from doing the job every day.
From the customer perspective, this lack of turnover means a more stable, responsive team to address their needs and concerns, something that those surveyed worry about. Customer loyalty, like employee loyalty, stems from a strong interpersonal connection to a common goal. They want to know who they’ll be dealing with when they pick up the phone or send an email. Merry-Go-Rep doesn’t encourage faith in a company and the downtime during training means time taken away from providing quality service.
Having a culture of open, responsive communication by well-known representatives engenders the kind of trust that many believe washed away with the last millennium. Thankfully, that’s not the case, because that kind of confidence and conviction can keep a customer during the most trying times.
No matter how hard we try, everyone makes mistakes, and they will eventually affect the customer. This being said, even the most hideous mistake can be corrected if the customer knows that it’s a one-off rather than a regular occurrence. This can only be proven through constant attention from employees they have confidence in before the slip-up happens. A calm voice and reassuring presence can be taught, but believing that the voice on the other end of the phone actually cares about them as people comes from familiarity, not the training room.
The most effective way to maintain a positive attitude during a crisis is to cultivate it in the office everyday. Employees who feel valued as people make the extra effort to go beyond what’s expected. They want to invest as much in their career as their career has invested in them. It’s a measure of respect and self-worth to know that if the employees weren’t there they would be missed. This positive attitude then spills over into everything the employees do and everyone they come in contact with from the start of the day to the end no matter what may happen. The customer is in tune with the idea that they, too, would be missed if they were to go elsewhere, and not just because of their investment, because of who they are. This kind of relationship can’t be bought, and customers know it.
Surveying the lay of the land in order to find the smoothest path toward a happy coexistence should be every company’s primary goal. This requires more than just surveying employees and customers. It requires a commitment to hearing and responding to the survey results in a way that benefits everyone: the employer, the employee, and the customer.