The key to happy customers is happy employees
It may seem like an over-generalisation, but there is truth to the maxim “happy employees equals happy customers”. At Vital Consular, we have always taken customer feedback to heart and have been focused on improving your experience at every stage of your journey, and we do the same for our staff too. Since January, we have been asking our employees for regular anonymous feedback via a monthly survey, and we’re pleased to say that it has confirmed what we hoped; our staff are a happy bunch.
In October 2020, the employee feedback reached the highest average we’ve had so far, an overall happiness average of 9.16 out of 10. In light of the current situation, with all of the difficulties of running a business during a global pandemic, I’m sure we’ll be forgiven for being extra proud of this score. Our customer feedback received through our Reviews.io account has continued to maintain it’s high score also, so we decided to look into the links between the experience of our customers and the happiness of our staff.
How much of a difference does happy staff make?
“We found that each one-star improvement in a company’s Glassdoor rating corresponds to a 1.3-point out of 100 improvement in customer satisfaction scores — a statistically significant impact, which was more than twice as large in industries where employees interact closely and frequently with customers.”Andrew Chamberlain and Daniel Zhao, Harvard Business Review
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, there is a direct link between the scores given by employees about their happiness in their job roles and the customer feedback scores from their customers. An employee’s sense of satisfaction in their role almost always has an impact on how well they deliver customer service, setting the tone for the customer experience. Maintaining good staff morale is an important, though not sole factor in ensuring that each customer has a great experience when dealing with your company.
February 2021 will mark my 10 year anniversary making me the longest serving member at Vital. I am especially proud to be part of a team who worked so well together this year despite it being the most trying time we have ever known. It may be a cliché, but it is like being part of a family!”– Nicola Palmer, Legalisation Advisor
At Vital Consular, we value our employees as much as we value our customers and that is evidently a formula for successful service. We’ve been operating since 2006 and our longest serving staff have been with us almost as long, with some employees being with us almost 10 years. Retaining staff is highly important to us, as their years of expertise and knowledge is indispensable in such a unique and complex sector. It also helps develop a stronger team bond, which translates into a more professional and communicative service delivery.
We’re constantly pleased to receive repeated feedback on how responsive, helpful and friendly our staff are when dealing with customers. Document legalisation is a complicated area, full of unfamiliar terms and processed for the uninitiated.
Our role is firstly to listen; each customer is unique so we need to understand their situation. As our staff are happy and engaged in their work, they’re genuinely driven to support each customer they interact with. This is the human interaction we know our customers value so highly, which helps us demystify the processes and guide the customer through which service they need in a more personal manner.
What is the secret of a happy team?
Valuing employee feedback
Our decision to request employee feedback was an effort to reiterate to our staff how valued their opinion is to the company. We wanted complete honesty from our survey, so it was made totally anonymous; if it wasn’t, how could we improve as a business?
This chance to freely give feedback to management has been welcomed and has opened up an important avenue of communication, and gives management something to aim for: a perfect 10.
At Vital we already have several ways in which staff can make suggestions for improvements, whether this is in service delivery or working environment. Improvement ideas are actively encouraged and out of this has come some amazing ideas! After all, our staff are the people who communicate regularly with our customer base and deliver our services. If there is a way that we can make the customer’s experience a better one, we’re confident that our staff will identify how.
Vital Consular currently operates out of 3 offices in the UK and Dubai, with scope to expand our locations in the near future. We currently score 9 out of 10 for “How well do you think Vital works as a team?” on our staff survey so we’re happy that, despite the distance, we work together effectively and seamlessly.
This team bond extends beyond general working relationships, which has been evident during lockdown. Even though many of our staff were furloughed, everyone kept in touch socially and would regularly check-in with each other. Vital’s management ensured that all staff were equipped with webcams at home, so everyone could communicate meaningfully with everyone else.
This only served to strengthen the team throughout this period and increased staff wellbeing. This way of communicating was just as valuable when staff began to return to work, albeit remotely from home.
I would say team communication is great even though some of us are working remotely. It really helps that we all got webcams when we had to move to home working so we could all stay in touch, and people will always respond to messages even if they’re out of their working hours.– Sean Garvey, Legalisation Advisor
Investing in employee development
Any staff from Vital that were furloughed during the pandemic spent their time developing their skills by studying courses which would help strengthen their role within the company. We have always been keen investors in staff development and this is proven to give employees a sense of being valued, as well as the ability to grow and progress within the company.
Our employees welcomed the chance to learn new skills, as well as improve on existing ones. Each staff member was offered a consultation with their manager to pinpoint where training could be beneficial, and was assisted in locating courses.
It was really useful doing the Customer Service training as I felt I was kept in the loop a bit, because I had something work related to focus on. I found that the training was useful when I came back and I had to talk to customers again, particularly as I was still out of the office.– Katie Edwards, Visa Specialist
Additional training encourages personal growth, as well as growth within the company. Each staff member is able to tailor their training to their particular role, which not only keeps their specialist knowledge current, but keeps them engaged by making training fun. This was especially beneficial to our staff during lockdown, increasing their self-esteem when it came time to re-engage with their roles.
How has COVID-19 affected happiness scores?
As previously mentioned, things have been difficult in 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19 and it’s colossal impact on travel and overseas recruitment. Although things aren’t completely back to normal just yet, we continue to see things improving and we feel as if we’ve been through this journey with our customers.
We’ve been able to adapt our work patterns and situations to ensure staff and customer safety, whilst still being here to support our clients throughout. When things seemed at their most uncertain, we wanted to be the voice of reassurance and answer as many questions as we could.
We have a great culture here of a particular role not just belonging to one person – if someone can help out, they will. This has been so important since we have been split up as a result of the pandemic, some of us in the office and some working from home. It’s crucial that everyone feels supported, now more than ever, and Vital puts this at the forefront of everything we do so that we can deliver our best work and come back the next day feeling like we can take on whatever comes our way.– Jessica Petch, Certificates Administrator
Despite unavoidable delays in some of the services we offer, due to Embassy closures and travel restrictions affecting courier services, we still received great feedback from our understanding customers. We ensured that, although some services were impacted, the communication with our customers was not. We understood that when everything was up in the air, the ability to speak to someone to receive an e-mail update offered a sense of reassurance during testing times. Our feedback throughout this period regularly reaffirmed that by simply being here, we were making a real difference to people.
Our development going forwards
Although we are proud of how we’ve done in supporting our customers and clients throughout 2020, as well as maintained such a high sense of wellbeing for our employees, we’re always looking for ways to do better. As well as receiving ISO 9001 accreditation prior to lockdown, the individual learning completed for each employee has been vast!
Aside from formal learning, we’ve also developed new ways of adapting to any situation that comes our way, however unexpected! This has come through the personal support between colleagues, as well as the willingness of staff to go over and above for customers, especially in the most trying times.
We aren’t resting on our laurels however, and the management team will still be monitoring the employee happiness surveys for ways to bring the scores up even higher; the customer feedback ratings should follow closely behind! Although many of our company social activities are currently on hold, we have many new work schemes in the pipeline for when everyone is able to return to the office.
This includes fun challenges where staff can compete as teams to gain rewards, incentives for completing additional tasks outside of their usual job role, and a buddy system. The buddy system is designed to give employees a deeper insight into each others job role.
During the past, employees who have shadowed or covered for other colleagues have commented on how having a deeper understanding of what each other’s day involves helps them understand their own part within the overall process much better. This increases empathy and makes service delivery much smoother and reliable.
As a whole, our company will continue to improve through out ISO 9001 monitoring and encouraging new ideas from our staff. Most of all, we will continue to value our customers and seek to improve each and every interaction we have with them.
“Since I started the company over a decade ago, I have always been aware of the close relationship between happy employees and happy customers. And it makes sense. When a workforce turns up each day in a positive frame of mind, that attitude naturally spills over into conversations with our clients. In our business, it is essential that we are able to quickly build up trust, even when we are frequently thousands of miles apart. It’s a much easier process when the person at the end of a phone or email is courteous and friendly. Happy staff means good business for us, and to be able to prove our staff enjoy where they work goes a long way to knowing that we have everyone’s best interest at heart..”– Matt Lawless, Managing Director