Team Happiness = Customer Happiness

I was in the Taipei immigration office one day, trying to extend my soon-to-be-expired resident card. I waited for a while until it was my turn to meet one of the immigration officers. I’ve been living in Taiwan for nine years now, and my experience with the immigration office in Taiwan is honestly, pretty much impeccable. They’re helpful, friendly, and very patient. Something you don’t see much in other countries.

Slightly unrelated: I just realized I’ve been an immigrant for NINE YEARS

Today, it’s kinda different.

The officer’s attitude was, let’s say, not what I expected. She was impatient; her tone was harsh; she semi-accused me of not bringing the correct documents when I clearly got everything right. It was like she was having a bad day, which any of us can relate, to be honest.

But it did annoy me a little bit. This is the first time I had this kind of experience in the Taiwan immigration office. At one point, she asked me (felt more like ordered to be honest) to copy my passport at the copy machine across the hall. I inevitably comply.

And then when I returned to the counter, I saw something mind-boggling.

She was chatting with her co-worker sitting beside her, sharing hearty laughter. And I meant this not in an accusing way (“She shouldn’t do that! It’s working hours” – fuck that shit), but all the negativity that she projected to me, which in this context, her “customer” just moments ago, was just… Gone. Poof. 180 degrees. Just as if she’s a different human being.

This but in reverse

And of course, she’s back to Terminator mode when I’m finishing the paperwork. By the way, if you’re thinking “Well Jovian, maybe you were a prick and annoyed her..”, I can assure you that’s not the case. I got all my docs ready and whatnot.

After I got all my stuff done, I wasn’t annoyed anymore, but mostly curious. My first thought was: she hates her job, of course. Then the following thought was: “Well, it’s kinda normal she hates her job, she’s a public servant, it’s one of the most thankless jobs.”

But my third thought was:

If an employee hates their job, how would it affect the happiness of customers?

I tried to think in the context of normal business. I wonder how much opportunities, growth, and sales companies missed out just because *their employees aren’t happy*

How many customer support ticketsare replied half-heartedly, just because the customer success person “just ain’t feeling it”? How many sales deals are delayed or just don’t close because the sales rep isn’t motivated enough to send that one follow-up email?

This article by Harvard Business Review pointed out:

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 β€” a statistically significant impact, which was more than twice as large in industries where employees interact closely and frequently with customers.

You can also make the case “Well, they are already being paid to do their job. It’s their responsibility. If they don’t do it well, they’re bad workers and irresponsible”. Discussions about company culture aside, technically these unhappy employees did their job, and they might even have been doing it *well*. But the unhappiness and dissatisfaction that they’re felling might hinder their will to spent a little bit more time and energy to do that *one extra step* that can change everything.

I still got my resident card extended in a timely fashion, the officer literally did her job very well. But, it’s not exactly the optimal experience for me. If this scenario happens to a business that depends on customer happiness, this would be a net negative.

Don’t be like this. Image credit: Dilbert

So whenever you’re wondering why your sales team isn’t hitting the numbers, why your NPS score hit a plateau, and why the customers don’t love you, check your team. Talk to them in the most candid and sincere way. Are they happy? Do they feel like they are being heard? Because team happiness makes all the difference in your business, in a much more direct way than you’ve imagined.

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