In the dynamic world of business, customer satisfaction (aka customer experience) is often championed as the cornerstone of success. However, there is another equally crucial aspect that tends to be overlooked: a healthy employee experience. This article delves into the interconnected relationship between these two facets and how they influence each other.

Before we dive in, however, we need to emphasize that employee satisfaction and employee engagement are not the same phenomenon. Let us delve into the nuances:

Employee Satisfaction:

  • Definition: Employee satisfaction measures whether an employee’s needs are met at work and gauges their overall contentment with their work experience.
  • Focus: It centers on individual feelings—positive or negative—about the employment relationship.
  • Nature: Subjective and internally focused on emotional happiness, which can be fleeting.
  • Key Question: “Are the employee’s needs being met?”

Employee Engagement:

  • Definition: Employee engagement goes beyond mere happiness. It emphasizes commitment and lasting emotions.
  • Focus: It centers on passion, energy, and commitment toward work.
  • Motivating Force: Engagement compels employees to invest their best selves—heart, spirit, mind, and hands—into their work.
  • Key Question: “Do employees feel committed?”

In summary, satisfaction is transactional, while engagement is transformational. Satisfaction lays the foundation for engagement, but the latter drives peak experiences and discretionary effort in the workplace.

This same distinction can be applied to the world of customer satisfaction. There are satisfied customers, and then there are brand ambassadors. In our view, satisfied employees create satisfied customers, and engaged employees create raving fans and those ever-important brand ambassadors.

The Connection between Employees and Customers

The link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction is not merely a theory but a well-documented correlation. A study by Harvard Business School found that a one-point increase in employee satisfaction leads to a 0.1-point increase in customer satisfaction. This association suggests that happy employees are more likely to create delighted customers.

For instance, consider the case of Southwest Airlines, a company renowned for its elevated levels of employee satisfaction. The airline’s positive work environment and employee-centric policies have led to highly motivated staff who provide excellent service, resulting in a high rate of customer satisfaction.

Let us also look at the case of Zappos, an online retailer known for its exceptional customer service. The company attributes its success to its focus on the employee experience. Zappos believes that by treating its employees well, they, in turn, will provide excellent service to the customers.

The reason behind these two success stories is simple: employees who are engaged in their job are more likely to be motivated and committed to providing excellent service. They are the face of the company, and their attitude towards their work can significantly influence the customer’s perception of the business.

Pro Tip: Employee Satisfaction Is a Mirror to Customer Satisfaction

A helpful way to understand customer satisfaction is to look at it through the eyes of the employees. They are the ones interacting with customers daily, understanding their needs, and striving to meet their expectations. Their insights can provide valuable information about how well the organization is serving its customers.

As you think about your customer experience, here are some questions that can be asked to employees to gather their perceptions. As used in this article, these questions are framed as open-ended inquiries. But they can easily be converted to agreement-style questions.

  1. Do you feel that the company values its customers? This question can reveal whether the employees believe that the company genuinely cares about its customers or if it is all about profits. Example Alternative: This company values its customers (1=disagree to 5=strongly agree).
  1. Do you think the company’s policies and procedures are customer-friendly? Employees’ opinions about the company’s policies can shed light on whether these policies are designed with the customer’s best interest in mind. Example Alternative: This company’s polices and procedures are customer-friendly. (1=disagree to 5=strongly agree).
  1. How often do you receive positive feedback from customers? Regular positive feedback from customers is a good indicator of customer satisfaction. Example Alternative: I receive positive feedback from customers (1=Never, 2=infrequently, 3= regularly, 4=usually, 5=always).
  1. Do you feel equipped to handle customer complaints effectively? This question can help identify if the company provides adequate training and resources for employees to handle customer complaints. Example Alternative: I am equipped to handle customer complaints effectively. (1=disagree to 5=strongly agree).
  1. Do you think the company takes customer feedback seriously? If employees feel that customer feedback is ignored, it could indicate a lack of focus on customer satisfaction. Example Alternative: This company takes customer feedback seriously (1=disagree to 5=strongly agree).


In conclusion, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are two sides of the same coin. They are interdependent and influence each other significantly. By looking at customer satisfaction through the eyes of the employees, businesses can gain valuable insights and make informed decisions to improve both. After all, a happy employee equals a happy customer.


  • Harvard Business School. (2016). The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Report.
  • Southwest Airlines. (2018). Employee Satisfaction and Its Impact on Customer Satisfaction at Southwest Airlines.
  • Zappos. (2017). How Employee Satisfaction Leads to Customer Satisfaction.

Share on Social!