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Satisfied Employees Create Satisfied Customers

If customers have a problem or question, whom do they call? Customer service? Their sales representative? For most businesses, customer service professionals and sales professionals are the only employees with whom customers interact on a personal level.

Customers form their opinions and impressions about a business based on interactions with these individuals. These employees are vital to a business' success, so it's important that they are satisfied and fulfilled by their careers.

How employees feel, and by extension act, have a great impact on a business's achievements. If employees have a positive outlook about the company and their place in it, they will make customers feel good about their decision to work with the company.

If employees believe their employer thinks that they are worthy and important, they will make the customer feel worthy and important.

On the other hand, if employees are unhappy or unfulfilled, or believe they are being manipulated, those feelings will trickle down to the relationships with customers, whether employees intend it or not.

If employees don't support the company or aren't enthusiastic about the products, companies cannot expect them to encourage customers to be supportive of the company or enthusiastic about the products.

Even if employees are not acting maliciously, which is usually the case, they most likely send unintentional messages that they are unhappy. Perhaps it is their tone of voice, lack of enthusiasm or lack of knowledge about a product. Whatever it is, it will interfere with customers' ability to feel a connection with employees and the company.

Welcome, Inform, Thank

Now that we know employees need to be fulfilled and happy, how do we make sure our staff is satisfied and content? By 1) welcoming them, 2) communicating with them and 3) appreciating them.

  1. Make Employees Feel Welcome at Work

    Do this through incentive programs, employee appreciation days or memos about exceptional performances. Make efforts to view and treat employees as partners rather than the hired hands. If possible, offer stock options, profit sharing or other programs that encourage a sense of belonging.

  2. Keep Employees Informed

    No one likes to feel like they are in the dark. Make it a point to either publish a newsletter or have a quarterly meeting where employees learn what's happening and most importantly, ask questions. If that's not possible, or your staff is scattered around the country, get creative with technology: Use e-mail, conference calls, Web sites or Web broadcasts.

    After communicating with staff and educating them about the company's plans and goals, ask for comments or feedback. What is happening in their department? What do they like about their jobs and the company? What improvements or changes would they like to see?

  3. Thank Employees for Their Hard Work

    Let employees know that you appreciate their work, either through a simple, "Great job, Bob. Thanks" or a more elaborate awards presentation for top performers. When necessary, acknowledge employees' sacrifices and ask for their understanding. If long hours have been required lately, or jobs have been cut, let the staff know that you empathize with them and appreciate their cooperation. Encourage them to ask questions so you can clear up any inaccurate rumors before they get out of hand.

Loyal Employees Foster Loyal Customers

These three small steps go a long way in creating a loyal workforce. Just as satisfied employees create satisfied customers, loyal employees attract, cultivate and nurture loyal customers.

Think about it. Customers probably prefer to speak with the same person each time they interact with your organization rather than having to explain who they are, what they do and what they need each time they contact your business.

If they are working with an employee who has been with the company for five or 10 years, they will have much easier and more enjoyable dealings with your company. They will remain loyal customers.

Loyal customers are important not only for the revenue and repeat business they represent; they also provide references, testimonials and referrals. They are invaluable; they work as part of your team, and they aren't even on your payroll.

If employees have a positive attitude about your company it will come through in their interactions with customers. If your sales force and customer service professionals feel appreciated, valued, respected and important, they will make your customers feel the same.

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