How Employee Satisfaction Correlates to Customer Experience

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Many customer experience practitioners stress the importance of employee participation in companies’ customer-centricity efforts. Intuitively, it is hard to disagree with the anecdotes they tell and conclusions they draw from these stories. There are numerous studies that attempt to connect employee engagement with various business goals, but I could not find any that link it directly with customer experience. If you know of any such studies, please share them with me.

It’s important to point out that employee engagement, defined as “the emotional commitment one has to their organization and its goals”, is very different from employee satisfaction or experience. An employee can be very engaged even without being satisfied with her working conditions, and vice versa.  I would like to pose that in the long term an employee is not very likely to sustain his emotional engagement without the consistent commitment of the company to improve his experience working there.

 

Since both customer experience and customer engagement are very subjective perceptions any attempt to measure either one presents methodological challenges. Every one of such attempt usually attracts very vocal supporters and detractors. Based on conviction that human perceptions are best described by stories, we aggregated and mined the stories of McDonald’s restaurant employees shared by them  online (3,327) and the reviews of its customers (4,412). The Opinion Miner algorithms discovered patterns in these “stories” and measured frequency with which these patterns observed as well as a collective sentiment associated with each one. While such analysis can be much more detailed, for this article we decided to focus only on the most frequently observed patterns.

 

While McDonald’s employees, who shared their stories,  are quite satisfied with their benefits, learning experience and training, they don’t perceive their work environment positively. You can see the chart below. The size of the bars represent the intensity of a sentiment expressed.  MCD Emp chart   Even though the majority of employees who shared their story online are disheartened by their pay rate, this comes seventh in terms of its importance to them. The most important signal, from the perspective of this inquiry, is a negative sentiment toward customers that comes through the employees’ descriptions of their relationship with their company. It is hardly a surprise that customers reflect this attitude in their assessment of McDonald’s customer service (-4%) as it is seen on the chart below. MCD Cust chart

Despite relatively positive assessment of food, ambiance and cleanliness customers don’t think that McDonalds offers them a “good value”. The price matters less when you are served with disdain. Restaurants are not in a food business-they are in the hospitality business and unengaged employees do not seem to be very gracious hosts.

 

This is just one, randomly selected, example. However, the result suggests that companies serious about improvement of experience for their customers have to pay closer attention to measuring and monitoring the satisfaction of their employees.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Employee ambassadorship, connected to but distinctive from employee satisfaction and employee engagement, is defined as commitment to the organization itself, its value proposition, and its customers. Ambassadorship, supportive of customer centricity initiatives, directly links employee behavior with customer experience (which, as you note, is a challenge for employee engagment). This past February, I facilitated a webinar on this subject; and, In fact, this week I’m launching a series of training sessions for Beyond Philosophy which will cover the linkage in detail: http://www.beyondphilosophy.com/successfully-building-employee-ambassadorship-companys-customer-centricity-initiatives/

  2. I found this article whilst doing some research on the factors impacting customer experiences. Undeniably, the satisfaction of employees is a key element, as they personify the brand and interact with consumers on it’s behalf. The SERVQUAL model explains this well. http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&q=servqual&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C5&as_sdtp=
    In accordance with this, and many other theories relating to service quality and expectations, it is imperative that organisations maintain
    n the level of service from the transactional start to finish, and beyond. This article explains this, as well as acknowledging the importance of employees in the process: http://blog.sdl.com/digital-experience/delivering-across-entire-customer-journey-effective-customer-experience-management/.

    Sophie

  3. It needs to be recognized that the SERVQUAL Model is now almost 30 years old. And, while some of it remains very useful and applicable – particularly striving for value delivery perceptual alignment between employees and customers – we are living in a vastly different world today, for both employees and customers. It’s understood that stakeholder decision dynamics are far more emotional and relationship-based than was considered in 1985, when SERVQUAL was created. As noted, employee satisfaction elements are largely tactical and rational in nature; and, to influence key elements of customer experience, even employee engagement, as defined, has only inferential and superficial effect.

  4. Unfortunately, the Service Profit Chain, important as a means of linking customers and employees when it first appeared, misses some contemporary realities. Here’s what I said in a 2011 CustomerThink blog on the subject: “The service-profit chain postulated that employee satisfaction drives customer satisfaction. Today’s demanding and continuously changing customer environment requires tools for better understanding of both customer behavioral drivers and drivers of employee attitude and action that extend well beyond conventional-wisdom communication and satisfaction feedback approaches.”

    Here’s the full blog, which has been viewed almost 3,000 times: http://customerthink.com/linking_employee_behavior_to_customer_loyalty_advocacy/

  5. This interesting article reminded me the Ritz-Carlton Hotels motto “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”: maybe it’s because we also work in hotellerie, but we found it very inspiring.

    As a matter of fact, to create a high reputation it is necessary to involve the whole staff and make it real protagonist in the process.
    Each staff member must learn and grow up in order to achieve excellence in service, awareness and motivation that give him certainty to act properly in every situation.
    People who have the pride of belonging to an organization will be oriented to provide a kind of service that will strengthen the external image. And to be proud, they first need to be trained, motivated and satisfied.

    Unfortunately, Gregory, I have no studies to demonstrate that, but only a little bit of personal experience.

    Thanks for your work

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