Happy employees, happy customers: creating the recipe to success

A well-articulated leadership vision and employee engagement lie at the heart of customer experience and brand success” according he founder of Australia’s RedBalloon and well-respected entrepreneur, Naomi Simson.

It’s an interesting concept, and one that’s gathered a lot of pace over the last 12 months. Workplaces are rapidly transforming and it’s easy to see why – results have shown that happy employees does in fact seem to equal happy customers..

To gain some insight on how this theory is working in practice, I recently caught up with Roslyn Hogan, she’s the Head of Customer Happiness at Red Balloon. Take a read of the interview below:

How are you driving a positive culture at Red Balloon, why is it a focus for you?

Simply speaking, culture is everything at RedBalloon. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have been listed as a BRW Great Place to Work five years in a row, one of only nine companies to do so. We come to work as ourselves, not our job titles. What we share is a deep belief in our purpose, which is to give people more good times. We also have a shared set of values that we live and breathe more than in any company I’ve ever worked for.

We drive that culture by acknowledging that “what gets recognised gets repeated”, both by the individual and the group who witnessed that recognition. On this basis it follows that if you recognise behaviours in line with the culture of the business, it will reinforce those behaviours and therefore drive more of the same. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What would you say is going to be the key differentiator between businesses that drive their CEM strategy to new levels and keep ahead of the competition, and those that don’t?

The key difference is results. Your CEM strategy is at large is your sales strategy – they go hand in hand.

Do you have any results to demonstrate the direct correlation between culture, customer experience and business performance?

Are you familiar with the saying “Happy wife, happy life”? Well, the same could be said for the workplace in that “Happy employees, happy customers”. We believe that if our people are happy, it leads to happy customers, happy suppliers and ultimately, a happy financial performance.  RedBalloon has often been quoted as saying “employees are the new customers” and “happy people = happy profits”. And that’s exactly how you should look at it. If you’re willing to go the extra mile for a customer who is upset, then shouldn’t that same attitude apply to your loyal employees?

The results here at RedBalloon speak for themselves. Our employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is 100%, so we have unquestionably happy people. Our Net Promoter Score has risen by 14% in a year, so we have happy customers. And as a result of both happy people and happy customers, our sales per call has increased a whopping 34% year on year (2013 to 2014), which equals happy profits for our business.

How do you ensure consistency across all touch points to provide a seamless experience?

Coaching is imperative at RedBalloon – when it drops off, so does the quality of service. The Customer happiness team are empowered to deal with a whole range of customer inquiries. They are largely self-sufficient and free to make decisions as individuals. Every customer happiness team member knows they have an individual impact on the RedBalloon brand – good or bad.

We’re active on several social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. We know that every customer is unique and we want them to be able to reach us in the way that best suits them. Every employee who interacts with customers via social media platforms, email or over the phone are trained with the same key messages. We empower our people to deliver a great customer experience that exceeds customer expectations at every opportunity – we even have discretionary budgets set aside to surprise and delight our customers.

It’s all about training our people to do their best, and then trusting them to get the job done.

What would be your one key piece of advice for anyone looking to improve the culture of their organisation?

My one key piece of advice would be to train and empower your people. If your employees know they are making a worthwhile contribution, and if they are noticed and rewarded on a regular basis, they will be happier and more willing to give their extra effort day in, day out. At RedBalloon we have an annual training budget set aside for every single employee – with knowledge and confidence comes the power to trust your own instincts and discretion. We also reward our people with points to redeem against RedBalloon experiences, and we find these rewards work just as well in other organisations seeking an out-of-the-box reward alternative to store vouchers and cash bonuses. Believe it or not, happiness is throwing your people out of a plane!

Finally, customer centricity is a phrase that’s been gathering pace across the industry – what does it mean to you?

Customer centricity for me means that our customers are always at the heart of everything we do. We want to be an integral part of our customer’s experience; we don’t want to just facilitate it. For us, this means listening to them with open ears and constantly evolving our approach based on the feedback we receive. But in a way it’s more than that – we don’t just listen; we actually act on what they say. We have no limit on our call times to ensure that we can meet customer expectations and needs every time because we understand that excellent communication is fundamental in every relationship – it’s no different when it comes to customer service.

It’s also important to ensure that we effectively communicate with our customers before, during and after the sale of an experience to ensure we’re there every step of the way. Our ‘How was it for you’ survey is sent to every customer after they complete their experience, and we constantly benchmark our customer reviews and use this feedback to better what we do.

Customer centricity means putting our customers first with their best interests at heart.

Hear more from Roslyn and a brand new line up of Customer Experience experts during the 7th annual Customer Experience Management. She’ll be delivering the presentation. ‘Case Study: Happy Employees Equal Happy Customers’.

Find out more by visiting www.customerexperiencemanagement.com.au   – be sure to check out the resource centre for more exclusive interviews, articles, past presentations and top tips.

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