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Guest Blog: How to Improve Customer Satisfaction by Educating Employees

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Kevin Leifer writes about the importance of properly educating and training employees which in turn leads to happier employees. This reminds me of one of my favorite expressions: What’s happening on the inside of the company is felt on the outside by the customer. […]

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Kevin Leifer writes about the importance of properly educating and training employees which in turn leads to happier employees. This reminds me of one of my favorite expressions: What’s happening on the inside of the company is felt on the outside by the customer. – Shep Hyken

Happy employees increase customer satisfaction and well-trained employees are satisfied employees.

A study from 2005 reported that a five-point improvement in employee attitudes caused a 1.3 rise in customer satisfaction that in turn, generated a 0.5% increase in customer attitudes.

Like so many things in our business, it can be hard to know which investments (technology,training programs, etc.) are worth your money and which lack the big pay off.

How do you know what your staff needs? What will have the biggest impact on improving customer satisfaction?

In this article, you will learn five key benefits that come from educating your employees.

1. Train employees to act as if the business is their own

Disengaged employees aim to do as little as they can for the most money.

Engaged employees arrive early and stay late. They suggest ideas for increasing profits and improving customer satisfaction. Moreover, they do it without seeking more money.

The difference between the two types of employees is stark.

How do you change disengaged employees into engaged employees?

Show them a new way of thinking. Who do your employees see as their employer – you or themselves? If they believe they are working for you, many will do just enough to get by.

However, when employees see themselves as self-employed, they’ll work hard to make your business succeed.

For them, your success makes them successful. Increasing sales and profits is in their best interests because it helps them achieve their goals and guarantees their employment. They are the kind of employees that managers notice and promote.

2. Teach employees to watch what they’re saying

A standard retailing problem is when your employees talk to customers in unhelpful ways. The words employees choose, and their tone, affect the experience your customers have in your stores. The wrong words lose sales.

Words also make a difference when customers enter your stores. What’s the first impression someone gets when he or she walks into your store? Are your employees helping people? Alternatively, are they standing around chatting and gossiping?

Train your employees to focus on positives when they talk to customers. Validate the shopper’s ideas as unique, intelligent, and original.

Teach them how to handle questions from customers. You want them to avoid negatives, like “I don’t know.” Instead say, “That’s a good question, I’ll find out.”

Show your employees how to use “power” words that will boost sales.

3. Build a high-trust culture

Trust is the currency of the new economy, says Stephen M. R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust and Smart Trust. Plenty of research backs up his claim.

A study of a large Canadian retailer found an extremely significant relationship between workplace trust and key performance indicators. The top 25% of retail stores on ‘Great Places to Work’s Trust’ Index achieve 7% basis points higher sales performance than the bottom quartile stores.

Building a high-trust culture starts with meeting the three human needs.

While popular, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is not accurate. Instead, scientists have identified three needs:

  • Autonomy: people need to perceive they have the freedom of choice and that they are the source of their actions.

  • Relatedness: people need to belong to a group. They want to feel connected to others without worrying that people have ulterior motives. It is also about contributing to something greater than them.

  • Competence: people need to feel like they can handle everyday challenges. They want to know they are getting better as time passes. They wish to feel a sense of growth.

Make sure that your employees are exposed to educational content that will increase their competence. When employees are confident about what they are doing, they will feel free to act with greater autonomy. Moreover, through learning together, they will meet their need for relatedness.

4. Create competitions among employees

Have you created in the past a contest in your business that focuses on individual goals? Be wary, rewarding competition can be destructive when focused on a single employee.

In The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling, say that making employees compete against each other is a bad thing.

Why? Employees need to work together as a team to make your retail business as successful as it can. If the success of their workmates means they’ll be less successful, they will not do their best.

Instead of creating a win-lose environment, you need to create a win-win environment. Set a team goal and reward/track everyone’s contributions toward that goal. Ask employees what reward they would like, and then tell them what they need to do to earn that reward.

You also want to reward employees for beating their personal bests. For example, an employee signs up more customers for your loyalty program this month than they ever have before. Also, make sure to acknowledge their success.

When you do these things, you’ll build a high-performing team. You’ll also recognize the achievements of individuals.

5. Inspire employees through connecting what you want to their highest values

Do you motivate employees or inspire them?

At first blush, it seems like motivation and inspiration are the same thing, but it is important to know how they differ. It can change the results you are getting.

Author and speaker Dr. John F. Demartini tells audiences never to call him a motivational speaker. He considers himself an inspirational speaker instead.

Motivation is external pressure to do something you do not want to do. Inspiration is when you are on purpose moving toward fulfilling your highest values.

So if you are going to give up motivating employees, how do you inspire them instead?

Know your highest values. Know your employees’ highest values. Then connect what you want them to do to their highest values. Link their work to their highest values.

Inspired employees are engaged. They are present in body and spirit. They make it their personal mission to improve customer satisfaction.

Educated employees are engaged employees. They are happy employees. Happy employees mean delighted customers.

The five benefits above show clearly that you can motivate your employees with the right training program. And as explained throughout this post, Improving your employee skills improves customer satisfaction.

Kevin Leifer is passionate about retail, specifically aligning a brand’s expectation of their customers’ experience with consistent execution in-store. Having managed national touring programs for the National Basketball Association, Nabisco, Coca-Cola and AT&T, Kevin joined ICC/Decision Services in 2000 as an account executive managing the retail apparel business.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to Have you heard Shep’s latest podcast on Amazing Business Radio? Click here to listen.

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