Satisfied Employees = Satisfied Customers

Have you ever noticed that some companies truly have "their act together?" They have excellent processes in place so service appears seamless. In their book Service Profit Chain, Heskett, Sasser and Schlesinger talk about how to improve profitability through improved customer service and employee satisfaction. "Value is created by satisfied, loyal, and productive employees. Employee satisfaction, in turn, results primarily from high-quality support services and policies that enable employees to deliver results to customers." Employees feel successful when they can provide good service to customers and frustrated when support systems are slow, cumbersome, or make it difficult for them to do their job.

I recently had two great customer service experiences that I believe truly demonstrate this concept.

We took a cruise on Royal Caribbean recently. The ship holds 2,500 passengers and I wondered aloud how they were able to plan and feed that many people for a week! A frequent cruiser overheard and proceeded to tell me that Royal Caribbean has created specific menus. They use those menus on every 7 day cruise. So that means whether you are sailing in the Caribbean, Europe, or Alaska; if it is for example Italian night, every ship is serving the same menu. That makes so much sense when you think about it. Can you imagine how easier this process makes it for the food purchaser, the cooks, and the servers who describe the menu to passengers? Consistency is improved and satisfaction is achieved because everyone has a familiar process. Passenger satisfaction goes up because their meals are served efficiently. Because customers are happy, employees are happy.

My second example is with Southwest Airlines. I flew from Dallas to Houston this week and back again. The flight is advertised as lasting an hour but both trips were less than that. Taking into consideration that the flight attendants cannot serve beverages for the taxiing and ascending and descending parts of the flights, how do they manage to serve approximately 130 people during this short flight? The answer was again high-quality support systems. Instead of dragging out a bulky cart, they go down the isle with a clip board with a credit card machine attached to the back. The chart on the clip board identifies the row and seat number to ensure the passenger receives their requested beverage. The credit card machine is for purchase of alcoholic beverages. The flight attendants then have a tray with indentions for the cups. This is also organized by row and seat number to quickly and accurately provide the passengers with their beverage. There was still time left over on the flight for serving their famous peanuts. Again, happy customers = happy employees.

Does your company make it easy for your employees to provide quick and efficient service to your customers? How can you apply this concept to your own company? One of the key methods you can immediately implement is to find out what support systems (manual or electronic processes) frustrate your employees when they are trying to deliver good service. Then enlist their help in developing ideas to remove the barriers and you gain two things: Satisfied customers and satisfied employees.

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