Should You Prioritize Customer or Employee Satisfaction?

Employees and customers are the two most important groups in your organization. While loyal customers support you and keep your business in the black, skilled employees perform the day-to-day tasks that allow you to serve your customers. Keeping both groups happily engaged with the company is vital to your success. However, their needs don’t always align, and steps to satisfy one can negatively impact the other. Let’s examine how the two are related and some best practices employers can use to improve employee and customer satisfaction.

What is the connection?

Customer-facing employees represent your company every time they interact with a client. Their attitude and professionalism can earn your company an excellent reputation. Or, their poor customer service can tarnish your good standing with even long-time clients. Satisfied employees are more inclined to be helpful and positive, even when dealing with challenging problems. They listen closely and look for solutions. On the other hand, customers quickly pick up on the negative body language of a disgruntled employee. Poor service and impersonal interactions can make them feel like a burden.

In either case, the employee may find a satisfactory solution for the customer. However, their attitude about the job significantly influences their ability to provide a positive customer experience and outcome. Thus, employee satisfaction directly correlates with customer satisfaction.

How can you improve employee satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction varies with the importance employees place on various aspects of their job. For some, working with the latest technology is important. For others, feeling appreciated is essential. However, for most employees, there is underlying common ground that employers can focus on to boost satisfaction across the organization.

Share the Big Picture

The larger the organization, the more duties and responsibilities become divided among various groups, removing tasks further and further from the goals and objectives they support. This delegation, while necessary, can make it challenging for employees to see how their daily work contributes to the organization as a whole. When leaders purposely or inadvertently withhold information from employees, the situation worsens. The result is employees who only know what they do but don’t know why.

Employees become more engaged and motivated to do their best when they understand the whole picture, especially how they are helping to achieve bigger company goals. Knowing the broader picture also enables them to innovate in their role and communicate better with employees in other departments. An organization that shares the bigger picture fosters a culture of collaboration and teamwork. Each employee can see their value and is vested in the outcome, and this engagement leads to more positive interactions with clients.

Provide the Right Tools

Have you ever tried to remove a screw with a hammer? Not many have because it’s not the right tool for the job. Even if employees love what they do, there are bound to be mundane but important tasks. While you can’t change the job description, the right tools can make it easier and less stressful. The tools could include ergonomic office furniture, new software, or upgraded technology. Proper tools will streamline business processes, help employees be more productive with their time, and improve job satisfaction.

Think Long-term

Most employees have goals and ambitions – a vision of where they want to be and what they want to do. They likely will not be content to stay in the same position at the same company for years. Employers who take the time to understand where their employees would like to be in five or ten years from now and can offer opportunities for advancement are more likely to retain their workforce.

Engaging in conversations about the future not only educates employees about the possibilities. It shows you are vested in them as people and contributors to the company. Follow up these conversations by offering training to help them achieve their goals. In doing so, you are also investing in the future of your company.

Compensate Well

It isn’t easy to quantify the contributions of your employees. However, salary makes a statement about how much you value them, whether intentional or not. Keep an eye on the market. Competitive compensation will encourage your employees to stay with the company rather than seek higher wages with a competitor. When employees reach employment milestones, exceed expectations, secure a new contract, or wrap up a challenging project, consider whether a bonus or raise is appropriate. Your recognition of their efforts will not go unnoticed.

What if employee satisfaction undermines customer needs?

Employee satisfaction undoubtedly helps improve their ability to provide excellent customer service. However, garnering that satisfaction can come at a cost to the customers. For example, paying employees more may mean a cost increase for customers. Likewise, more vacation time may make employees less available to field questions or concerns. What follows is a delicate balancing act.

We suggest that the best way to navigate these conflicts is to identify areas where customer and employee needs align. These are places where you can boost both and reap benefits on both sides of the equation. One suggestion might be implementing new technology that makes processes more efficient for employees and customers. Improving in mutually beneficial ways may provide enough satisfaction to overshadow other issues on your employees’ workplace wishlist.

Keeping your employees and customers happy does not have to be mutually exclusive. Engaging employees starts with the recruitment process. Identifying individuals that are an excellent cultural fit for the organization and who work well with the team is a great place to start. These individuals are more likely to be engaged and satisfied working because they fit in with the team. Contact a Utah staffing firm for help finding employees that are a perfect fit for your organization.