At Market Metrix we have made ground-breaking work in researching emotions and the emotions that matter most. We measure emotions of employees that lead to prolonged tenure and productivity and emotions of guests which impact loyalty.
Contagion theory states that our feelings are influenced by those around us. As it applies to the employee customer experience, it stipulates that guests can tell the authenticity of employee emotions. When employees exhibit authentic positive emotions, guests are also emotionally satisfied with their experience and become likely to recommend the brand.
If employee emotions are not authentic, customer emotions are not positively impacted and they are less likely to become loyal. They may like the place and receive good service, but they do not become brand promoters. In other words, no matter how great your product or service may be, it's all about the authenticity of employee emotions if you want loyal customers.
Is this true? Do customer emotions matter most? And if so, what are the levers on the employee side if you want them to approach customers with genuine care rather than just executing service standards? We looked first at the significance of emotional satisfaction, and then at the things that inspire employees to create positive guest emotions.
It does appear customer emotional experience is the most important contributor to whether or not they will recommend you. Using data from 40,000 guest surveys, we looked at 40 questions on stay experience and grouped them into product, service and emotions. Using correlation analysis between each group and the guest's likelihood to recommend, we saw that emotions scores related most strongly with likelihood to recommend.
Source: MMHI 2012 *Rank based on correlation analysis between question average and likelihood to recommend the brand
Looking for more direct business evidence, we found good examples of clients who effectively measure the customer's emotional experience. One well-known brand asked their customers to provide feedback on their stay broken into emotional, product and service satisfaction, including a specific emotion question on the sincerity of the service received. As expected, a full-year of customer responses showed that this question correlated more strongly to likelihood to recommend the brand than any of the other product, service or emotion questions listed.
Source: Sample Customer Metrix client 2012 *Rank based on correlation analysis between individual question and likelihood to recommend the brand.
But what inspires employees to create positive guest emotions? The answer isn't surprising if you understand contagion theory. We analyzed feedback from 160,000 employee feedback surveys from 2012 to find out which areas of employee satisfaction correlated most strongly with their intent to recommend their employer (i.e. the things that make them passionate about their work). The number one factor was "having fun at work." It matters more than career advancement, job security, recognition, communication, training, pay and everything else.
Source: Employee Metrix 2012 *Rank based on correlation analysis between question average and likelihood to recommend their employer as a fun place to work.
Employees are human too, influenced by emotions of others just as customers are. Positive emotions are infectious but they have to originate somewhere. It all begins with creating a workplace where people can have some fun each day. Oh, and by the way, creating a fun work place will also likely reduce turnover and increase productivity.