Customer satisfaction? Four reasons to ask your employees first

Many companies are obsessed with how satisfied and loyal their customers are - And if they’re not, they should be. Most companies will live, die or thrive on the efficacy of their customer service.

Naturally this is a something incredibly important for companies to measure. After the balance sheet it’s probably the metric that gets the most attention from senior leadership. 

There are a number of mechanisms to measure customer satisfaction - or your nearest proxy or equivalent for satisfaction. One of the most popular being the Net Promoter Score (NPS). However, irrespective of the metric used, there are typically a number of challenges with measuring customer satisfaction, particularly via surveys.

These include the timeliness of the data, cost, non-response bias and the risk of just annoying your customers (There is a good discussion on this on iSixSigma). Plus usually you want to survey customers at the "point of transaction" – close to their interaction with you. Sometimes this can be difficult or impossible to do.

However, here’s something to consider - Try asking your employees what they think. We’d never advocate replacing your customer surveys with employee surveys. However, we’re strong believers that employee surveys can both deepen and broaden your understanding of your customer service.

Why? Here are the four reasons:

1. The holy grail - employee “satisfaction” is linked with customer satisfaction. There is good evidence of this in numerous publications.

2. A well-designed employee survey is very actionable. If your customers are giving you a “3” on your NPS, you then need to dig deeper to find out why. An employee survey should be designed to give (immediate) actionable insight.

3. Your employees already have a very good understanding of if you’re delivering or not [1,2]. This is why our survey templates have questions like “Our products are equal to or better than our competitors” or “At ACME, we deliver good customer service”. Usually your employees will also know about changes and issues in your customer satisfaction earlier, particularly if there is a "lag" with your customer data. This is very powerful.

4. It’s usually easier, cheaper and quicker. Delivering an employee survey with high participation rates can be a lot easier than going out to a large sample of customers. We have customers surveying their employees in a regular cycle; every 1-3 months.

Just four reasons? Ok - here is a bonus final reason:

5. You find out about your culture and your employees at the same time. An employee survey gives you a lot of leverage across your organization.

Imagine you ask every employee - “How are we doing? And how can we do better? Do we connect with our customers? Are we delivering?”. Simple questions with powerful results. It’s a great way to deepen and complete your picture of customer satisfaction.

.[1] Put your employees on the other side of the microscope – Wiley, J. W., Brooks, S. M., & Lundby, K. M. (2006). Human Resource Planning, 29(2), 15-21.

.[2] Customer satisfaction: A supportive work environment and its financial cost – Wiley, J. W. (1991). Human Resource Planning, 14(2), 117-128.

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