Happy Employees Create Happy Customers by Stan Phelps
Happy Employees Create Happy Customers
I recently completed a quest. I had set out to find 1,001 purple goldfish. Examples of companies that strive to exceed customer expectations via a sticky concept called g.l.u.e (giving little unexpected extras). Signature extras that help win customers and influence word of mouth.
Who is more important . . . employees or customers?
This is a great chicken and egg question with regard to leadership. Which comes first? What became clear during my research is that brands who understand the concept of lagniappe for customers, also embrace the concept with employees. Both are equally important. Taking care of employees and investing into the “little extras” for staff help build a dynamic culture. Here is a great quote by Vince Burks of Amica Insurance reinforcing this focus.
At Amica Insurance – the concept of lagniappe is not just a part of our brand ethos; it is ingrained in everything we do. It therefore extends to our most valued resource – our employees. In fact, that is the secret to our success.
Excellent benefits. Advancement opportunities. The latest technology. A real work/life balance. And an open and regular line of communication with each other and with senior management. Taken together, we give our employees all that they need to succeed … and more.
This is absolutely essential. Satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers. Long term employees lead to long term relationships with customers. And pride, trust, and morale are all contagious.
Further, well-trained, long-term employees know how to get the job done quickly, efficiently, and effectively. They know their customers. They know their colleagues. They know their company. And they therefore know how to “get to yes” with ease and a sense of grace.
This is good for the customer. This is good for the company.
This post will officially start my next quest. I’m going to actively crowd source 1,001 examples of green goldfish. Why green for employees? First and foremost, green is one of the three colors of Mardi Gras (purple, green and gold). New Orleans is the birthplace of lagniappe, the overarching concept for providing “little extras.” The second reason deals with money. It’s well documented that financial compensation is not a strong long term motivator. The Project will explore the little things that can make the big difference in establishing culture.
Similar to the Purple Goldfish, it is my belief that employee lagniappe provides the following three benefits:
- Differentiation – a way to stand out in a sea of sameness. Give the company a remark-able difference or set of signature differences.
- Retention – keep employees happy and they’ll stick around longer.
- Word of Mouth – create a culture that attracts talent. Become a desired place to work and you’ll get more A players.
How about helping me with an example or three? Here are a few thought starters to get you going:
Google – “20 percent time program”. According to Jonathan Strickland in ‘HowStuffWorks: How the Googleplex Works’, the company allows its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week at Google to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. Google claims that many of their products in Google Labs started out as pet projects in the 20 percent time program.
Zappos -”The Offer” The offer is part of the four week new hire paid training. The training immerses the group into the culture and Zappos’ laser focus on customer service. At the conclusion of training, everyone is offered $3,000 to leave. According to Fast Company Co-Founder Bill Taylor, “It’s a small practice with big implications: Companies don’t engage emotionally with their customers–people do. If you want to create a memorable company, you have to fill your company with memorable people. How are you making sure that you’re filling your organization with the right people? And how much are you willing to pay to find out?” In case you’re keeping score at home, roughly 2-3% of trainees have taken the offer since it was rolled out.
Reebok “Thinking inside the Box” – Some organizations have a company gym. Other may subsidize or pay for gym fees. Reebok took this to the next level in 2010 by converting a brick warehouse at Reebok’s headquarters into an employee exclusive CrossFit “box’’ or workout center, with six coaches and extensive equipment. About 425 employees at Reebok are taking part in Canton. This benefit reinforces the company’s new mission: to get consumers moving. Participants lost over 4,000 pounds collectively during 2011.
Please leave your example in the comments or e-mail me at stan [at] 9inchmarketing.com. Help me catch a 1,001 green goldfish.