Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Employees are Key to a Positive Customer Experience

**Photo credit: Arkaynelnc

Companies can make a positive impact on consumers in a variety of ways, including giving back to the community and seeking feedback to create a more attractive/reliable product or service. Care to know what makes one of the biggest impacts on me? Happy, thoughtful and caring employees. 

Two recent experiences have made me realize that employees who show one or more of the above three attributes can seriously make or break the way I view a company, and for that matter, whether or not I will continue to give my hard-earned cash to said company. 

MAL and I recently decided to try out the Megabus service from Detroit to Chicago for the first time. I had received mostly good reviews from a quick poll I took on Twitter, but I still wasn't absolutely convinced that this was the best idea. To briefly summarize our experience, the bus was very tidy and it departed and arrived on time. But what I'll remember most from my first Megabus adventure is the driver, Jack. Jack made it a point to come on the intercom (his intercom commentary throughout the trip was nothing short of witty and entertaining!) and introduce himself before we took off. He also provided us with frequent updates on when we would stop and how far we were from Chicago.  He even made a special stop at a rest area for the ladies because he realized the bathrooms at our lunch destination weren't accommodating for a large group of women sharing one restroom. This may seem less than impressive to some, but us women know how frustrating it can be to stand in a long bathroom line! 

I watched Jack chat and take pictures with some of the riders during lunch, and I could immediately tell he was passionate about his job and went out of his way to provide more than a driving service. Jack significantly added to my all-around positive first experience with Megabus, and you can bet I'll use the service again. 

My second experience, with Potbelly Sandwich Works in the Renaissance Center, is more of a recurring than one-time experience. When I choose to buy my lunch at work, I tend to be a creature of habit and opt to dine with Potbelly. The food is good and the options are diverse, but the happy and upbeat employees are the main reason I keep coming back. From the very first person who takes my order in line to the very last person at the cash register, chipper (and not annoyingly chipper in the least!) and smiling employees greet me. I keep waiting for the time I encounter a crabby employee who'd rather be doing anything other than taking orders and making sandwiches, but that's yet to happen. Positive and upbeat people are infectious, so I always look forward to having that slice of happiness injected into my day. 

Now, I fully realize not all employees who work for these two companies are the same and may not hold the same standards as Jack and the Ren Cen workers. But regardless, their attitudes make me fonder of the companies they represent. When company leaders strategize on how to be successful, I hope they take a good look at the people they are choosing to represent them. I'm sure I'm not the only person in this world who values happy and considerate employees almost as much as the product/service itself. Check out Chris Brogan's "Warm the Mug" post about a thoughtful and considerate server at a Michigan PF Changs location. 

I'm interested to know what other companies (local or national) have employees that have made a resounding impact on their customers. Please share! 


Lindsay M. Allen said...

Amen, Nikki! This is exactly why I'm so loyal to my local Starbucks location. The baristas know me by drink (and, in many cases, by name), and they take extremely good care of me. Feeling like you're a valued customer and getting great service (I mean, I've never gone anywhere else and had my drink started before I even get up to the register to order!) are hugely important to consumers, even if we don't always admit it.

Of course, there's also the flipside, which I blogged about earlier this summer:

EstrellaBella10 said...

Thanks for the comment, Lindsay! And thanks for sharing your related post. What a terrible customer service experience!

LJ said...

I wholeheartedly agree! I will return again and again to businesses that have great people on their front line. For me that includes a lot of local Ann Arbor places and Victoria's Secret - after a shoe description mix-up they were incredibly apologetic and sent a gift certificate to cover their mistake. And I will think twice about returning to places if I've had horrible service, even if I love the product (Sephora).

metrogal84 said...

I've totally noticed the nice people at the Ren Cen Potbelly as well. Service with a smile is the BEST! Love it when I hear "have a nice day" and you can tell the person whole-heartedly means it!

Brandon said...

I couldn't agree more! [yes I know this is more than a '.' :-) ]