One of the biggest problems and learning curves that business owners and managers alike come up against is striking the balance between keeping customers and staff happy. In most cases, we create a methodology and practices that are client-centric, but that can jeopardise our relationship with our employees. Of course, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out that this is seriously bad for business. Unhappy staff results in poor service, and ultimately unhappy customers too.
In this article, I’m going to be talking you through a few key areas that you need to address to achieve that magic formula of keeping everyone happy.
Support Your Staff
One of the common mistakes I see in management is employers automatically siding with the customer, particularly when dealing with complaints. This can be a tricky one to navigate well. Of course, you need to respect your customers and take their feedback seriously, but at the same time it’s pretty degrading for a staff member when their boss puts zero faith in them.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t need to side with anyone. Instead, you need to consider both perspectives. Why is the customer unhappy, and has the staff member made any mistakes? If so, don’t come down on them too hard. Remember, everyone is human and gets things wrong. Encourage them to be open and honest with you, and show them that you have empathy for their situation.
One of the things I find most strange about my industry is how few people use feedback to their advantage. We receive plenty of comments from customers and always take what they say on board, whether it’s positive or negative. In fact, negative feedback is often the best kind as it offers you the greatest opportunity to improve.
You shouldn’t just limit your feedback to your customers, though. Encourage your staff to offer suggestions. These will help your company to improve as a unit and will make your employees feel more valued.
Structuring a Team
Creating a happy, well-balanced team can be a very delicate act. It’s important that every member of staff know exactly what their role is, and feels that they’re offering genuine value to the team.
Some companies tend to introduce rigid hierarchies, with elevated staff members. In my experience, this isn’t a great idea. While it can be a great incentive for employees, it can also upset the dynamics of a team, and the promoted staff member can sometimes go on a bit of a power trip.
Just because you’re not promoting staff above each other, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use incentives to better motivate your team. Many companies use financial rewards to get the most out of employees, but I find that this doesn’t work as well as you’d think. Instead, I prefer to show employees what they can gain from staying with the company and what we have to offer them. This might be learning new skills or moving up in the business to different departments. Either way, you want to show your staff that they can grow with you and that there are opportunities available to them.
Treading the line between customer and employee satisfaction can be one of the trickiest things you learn in management. And it’s also one of the most important. Largely, you need to remind yourself to focus on your staff’s happiness, because this can be the first thing we forget when we get distracted by other stresses on the job. You’re far more likely to keep your customers content if you’ve got a happy team of employees. And if you’ve got happy employees and happy customers, then I guarantee you’ll be a happier boss.