Leveraging Strengths and Building Team SpiritHow can apathetic or disengaged frontline servers produce happy customers? Some exceptional employee will delight customers despite how they’re treated by their boss or the organization. Most don’t. The vast majority of employees directly reflect the care and service they experience every day in their team or workplace.

The Secret to Delighting Customers? Put Employees First“, co-authored by Disney Institute and McKinsey & Company, reports that “companies offering an exceptional customer experience can exceed their peers’ gross margin by more than 26 percent. Emotionally engaged customers are typically three times more likely to recommend a product and to repurchase it themselves…. companies that had a 1-percentage-point lead over their peers in key customer journeys typically enjoyed a 2-percentage-point advantage in revenue growth. In addition, companies that deliver excellent customer journeys increase employee satisfaction and engagement by 30 percent.”

Research on the strong connection between leaders serving the servers who then delight customers has been around for decades. Here are the results of a Zenger Folkman study correlating data from 360 ratings of leadership effectiveness with customer survey data:

Leadership Effectiveness and Customer Satisfaction

The Secret to Delighting Customers article reports that the best companies follow these steps:

1. Listen to your employees
2. Hire for attitude, not aptitude — then reinforce
3. Give people purpose, not rules
4. Tap into the creativity of your front line

These results are consistent with our studies and approaches such as “American Express Boosts Customer Service with Transformed Leadership and Culture“, a University of Pennsylvania report at “Want to Improve Customer Service? Treat Your Employees Better“, and summarized in “Thoughts That Make You Go Hmmm on…Serving the Servers“.

How delighted and engaged are your frontline servers by their boss, team, or organization? How do you know?