The employee-customer happiness connection – why the customer isn’t always right
“The customer is always right” – the phrase was first attributed to Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London. He is believed to have coined this phrase in 1909 to convince customers that they would get good service at his store and to encourage employees to give a high priority to customer satisfaction.
However, more than a century has exposed this as a flawed maxim because it overlooks the importance of employee well-being and satisfaction, and can potentially enable abusive behavior, creating an unhealthy environment that ultimately harms service quality and business performance.
While the reverse is also true – with the link between employee happiness and customer satisfaction direct.
Employees in high spirits bring energy and enthusiasm to their roles that can’t be faked or replicated. Their joy and commitment translate into authentic service — a service delivered with a genuine smile, a friendly demeanor, and a sincere desire to solve customer problems. Customers can feel this energy, and it creates an exceptional experience that encourages loyalty and drives repeat business.
Furthermore, happy employees result in greater employee engagement. When people are satisfied at work, they are more likely to go above and beyond their job descriptions, using their initiative to satisfy customers creatively. Their dedication and zeal don’t just meet customer expectations; they surpass them, further enhancing the company’s reputation and customer loyalty.
This is why ‘the mentl awards 2023’ has created a category solely focused on the retail sector to hero companies which understand this.
The Impact of Employee Mental Health
The conversation around employee happiness, however, isn’t complete without considering employee mental health. The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realises their potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and can contribute to their community.
Mental health is increasingly becoming a priority for businesses worldwide, and with good reason. Employees grappling with mental health issues like anxiety or depression often struggle to perform optimally. These issues can sap their energy, reduce concentration, and impede their ability to provide the level of service that customers expect.
Indeed, recent Gallup research pegs the cost to businesses in the UAE in 2022 from disengaged employees as $10.3 billion a year.
In stark contrast, supporting employees’ mental health can lead to a more motivated, productive, and resilient workforce. Providing mental health support, whether through employee assistance programs, mental health days, or workplace wellness initiatives, sends a powerful message to employees. It shows them they’re valued as people, not just as workers, leading to a significant boost in morale and motivation.
Building a Mentally Healthy Workplace
Building a workplace that promotes mental health is a strategic business decision with measurable benefits. Here’s how you can foster mental well-being in your organisation:
Workplace Culture: Create a positive, inclusive, and supportive workplace culture. Make sure every employee feels valued and included. Psychological safety is the foundation of a strong culture, one where employees feel safe.
Open Dialogue: Encourage that psychological safety with open conversations about mental health. Make it clear that it’s okay to talk about these issues and ask for help when needed. Leaders need to give permission to their teams to be open by embracing and talking about their own vulnerability.
Training: Provide training for managers and supervisors on recognising the signs of mental health issues within themselves and their teams, and how to handle them appropriately. Pledges such as Cigna’s ‘The 5% Pledge’, encourage senior leaders to devote five percent of their time each week to supporting their team’s mental health. In real terms, this can be 2.5 hours a week blocked in their calendars.
Support Services: Implement support services, like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), to provide professional help for those dealing with mental health issues.
Work-Life Balance: Promote a healthy work-life balance. Encourage employees to take time off when they need it and discourage a culture of overwork. In the retail world often employees cannot work remotely, and can spend long hours on their feet, don’t reach out after shift hours (unless totally necessary)
Reaping the Benefits
Companies that successfully implement these strategies will find themselves with happier, more engaged employees. These employees will be more likely to stay with the company longer, reducing turnover costs and enhancing the consistency of customer service.
In addition, they will serve as effective brand ambassadors. Their positive work attitudes can shape the public’s perception of a company, leading to a stronger brand image.
Finally, a mentally healthy workplace also leads to a more positive work environment. This positivity can be sensed by customers, whether they’re walking into a retail store or calling a customer service line. A pleasant atmosphere can improve customers’ perceptions of a company and make them more likely to return.
Taking care of employee mental health is not just a moral obligation; it’s a strategic business move. It’s an investment that pays off in the form of happier employees, more satisfied customers, and a healthier bottom line.
After all, when you take care of your employees, they take care of your customers, and your business reaps the benefits. ‘Happy staff, happy customers’ isn’t just a slogan. It’s a business philosophy worth investing in.
*If you are an organisation that is proud of the culture you are creating for your employees then ‘the mentl awards 2023’ are for you. Enter – or sponsor – today.