Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy Employees Do Not Make Satisfied Customers

There is some interesting research being done in the UK. Rosa Chun is a professor of business ethics and corporate social responsibility and Gary Davies is a professor of corporate reputation at Manchester Business School. They have been investigating the validity of the assertion that seems to stem from the 1994 Harvard Business Review article "Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work" and the subsequent book by James L. Haskett that happy workers equal happy customers. The concept of happy employees equal happy customer has been a mantra of high profile executives such as Gordon Bethune, the former CEO of Continental Airlines and many other public, private, non-profit and governmental organizations.

These academics have created a survey of customers and staffs of 49 business units and 13 service organizations in the UK. The survey covers fields ranging from financial services to retailing.

They start out with the statement that they haven't seen any hard data that supports the idea that happy workers equal happy customers. In fact, their research failed to confirm that service businesses with more-contented staff also have more satisfied customers. They found a positive correlation between happy employees and happy customers in only one firm where the business units with employees with higher satisfaction also had happier customers. There were two firms in their sample that had negative correlation between happy employees and happy customers.

Perhaps one of the most startling outcomes of their study was the factors that apparently increased customer satisfaction seemed to decrease employee happiness. The researchers admit there is a great deal of evidence that there is a causal link between happy customers and higher profits but there are a great number of steps to reach happy employees equal happy customers (or loyal customers). It appears that using a happy employee in a service role is not enough to win customer loyalty.

The bottom line is this research is important and needs further verification because there are many companies that hold the belief that happy employees equals happy customers and that this new knowledge may well change their strategy of how to create satisfied and loyal customers. There are several areas that need further investigation; namely,
1. What is meant by happy and how is it measured? (These definitions may be answered in the full documentation of the research.)
2. Would either of the definitions of happy include the topic of compassion that was discussed in my blog from yesterday (April 14th)?
3. What is the satisfaction criteria that indicates a satisfied customer?
4. It is not clear how many actual employees and customers were included in the sample.

I look forward to further information about this very important relationship since there are so very many companies that are spending a great deal of their resources to create "happy employees" with the expectation that it will lead to satisfied customers and perhaps loyal customers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i actually enjoy all your writing type, very attractive.
don't quit as well as keep penning in all honesty , because it simply very well worth to read it,
excited to see much of your articles, kind regards ;)


web visitor stats
OptiPlex 755 Desktops