Magazine Article

Corporate wellness and customer service

February 13th, 2012

Happy employees increase long-term success

By Danna Beal

Introduction by Tamela Thomas, Wellness Manager
Corporate Wellness counts, too. Business leaders must constantly make decisions based on how they will affect the short- and long-term financial performance of their organization. Because competition has never been more fierce, companies are constantly refining operations to stay nimble and relevant in the marketplace. The businesses growing right now are the ones that recognize one simple fact: Success hinges on customer service.

This month, author Danna Beal addresses the issue of extraordinary customer service as part of our corporate wellness focus. Healthy corporate practices attract, support and sustain the caliber of employees that companies seek—indeed, the kinds of employees that will make the right impression and seal the deal.

Beal, who holds a master’s degree in education, conducts workshops on enlightened leadership and is author of The Extraordinary Workplace: Replacing Fear with Trust and Compassion. She addresses corporate wellness in the accompanying article, driving home a simple message: Your employees are your company.

In a climate where hospitals compete for patients, banks fight for customers and many businesses struggle to survive, the importance of authentic, honest and exceptional customer service can’t be overstated. Customer service not only keeps your clients happy, but it also speaks volumes about your corporate wellness.

Whether you are a receptionist, a CEO or a salesperson, you represent a window into your company. For better or for worse, you create an impression that reflects the entire organization. Frequently, people make judgments and choose products and services based on how they are treated. Each point of contact between your company and your clients creates an opportunity to develop loyal customers and strong relationships.

For example, one study indicated that patients judge the competency of doctors by their office staff—proof that great customer service affects the bottom line.

Some real-life examples

  • A patient who elects a $90,000 surgery with a particular physician and hospital because the scheduler was helpful and compassionate
  • A homebuyer who chooses a bank because the loan officer is thorough and sincere
  • A renter who selects a property because the manager is kind and personable

Conversely, look at what happened when a major bank announced it was arbitrarily adding a $5 fee for using debit cards. The bank lost thousands of customers in a matter of days. It consequently withdrew the charge but already had lost the trust and loyalty of many current and former clients.

So how do you create extraordinary service? It starts by creating an extraordinary workplace.

Six steps for success

Too often, I hear people talk about teaching their employees how to deliver good customer service. The truth is that extraordinary service—the authentic, empathetic and sincere kind that surpasses people’s expectations—starts from within rather than from training.

People who work in environments of trust and compassion—words we can associate with corporate wellness—extend those feelings to their customers. Conversely, people who feel insecure, stressed or fearful often convey those emotions to the outside. Unhappy employees reflect poor corporate wellness, deliver inferior customer service, and achieve substandard work and production levels. They also have less loyalty and are unlikely to refer business to their employer. Moreover, an angry employee can project displaced emotions onto customers. In hospitals, fear in the workplace has been shown to impact patient safety.

When leaders create a collaborative and respectful environment, employees work to their highest potential. Developing or restoring employees’ trust and confidence is critical and can be accomplished in the following six ways:

1. Look within. Great leaders have the courage to look within and face their own weaknesses and insecurities. They listen to their employees and customers and set aside their egos. Humility is an attribute of extraordinary leaders. Arrogance and cockiness are not. Top-down leadership is becoming obsolete.

2. Energize. Teamwork results from trust. It also increases productivity and creativity. Trust inspires group synergism and elevates all involved. Criticism, on the other hand, depletes energy and hurts an organization. Internal conflict, blame and gossip destroy from the inside. Toxic relationships, like poison, need an antidote. In uncertain times, focus on creating trust, respect and inspiration. Energy will follow.

3. Be straight. Don’t use deceptive marketing. Be honest and upfront in everything you do. Don’t ask employees to deliberately mislead or lie. You want employees who feel good about what they do for a living.

4. Listen. Customers, patients and consumers want to be heard. So do employees. By listening you gain information about your service and products and you build allegiance. You can often soothe emotions and give others confidence just by listening to them and showing you care.

5. Be accountable. Be willing to stand by your word. When you make promises and fail to deliver, you destroy loyalty and confidence in your organization. The invisible repercussions are immeasurable. Blaming employees or customers alienates them and causes defensive reactions. It takes courage to be accountable and accept blame. By listening and being willing to keep your promises you earn long-term respect and loyalty.

6. Over-deliver. Give employees more than they expect and do the same for customers. When you surprise employees with rewards they didn’t expect, you increase their loyalty and performance. The same thing occurs with customers. When you over-deliver, you’ll often be paid back in referral business you didn’t expect.

The ABCs of corporate wellness

Three final words can help you improve your corporate wellness and build the strongest business possible: authenticity, belief and cooperation. Think of these as the ABCs of corporate wellness.

  • Authenticity: Act authentically in everything you do and people will respond positively.
  • Belief: When you believe in the goodness of others and yourself, you elevate everyone.
  • Cooperation: Make cooperation rather than internal competition and rivalry the theme of your workplace. When you do, you’ll shift consciousness and your business will improve.

By following the above outlined steps, you can enhance the corporate wellness of your workplace and subsequently deliver extraordinary customer service. In turn, you’ll also encourage creativity, stoke innovation and increase your likelihood of long-term success.

—Danna Beal writes about corporate wellness and is the author of The Extraordinary Workplace: Replacing Fear with Trust and Compassion.