Psychological Safety and Customer Satisfaction

Are you tired of robotic customer service interactions? Part of the secret to true customer satisfaction lies in creating a work environment where employees feel comfortable taking well-calibrated risks. This isn’t about ditching scripts altogether, but rather fostering a culture of psychological safety, where employees feel safe to suggest creative solutions.

Imagine a customer frustrated with a malfunctioning product. An employee who feels psychologically safe might suggest a creative workaround, even if it deviates from standard protocol. This empowered employee can then work with the customer to find a resolution, building customer satisfaction.

Over 85% of HR leaders believe that psychological safety is important for positive consumer outcomes, services and experiences, so let’s delve deeper into the link between the two.

What exactly is psychological safety?

Psychological safety, as defined by Behave, involves striking a balance between comfort and discomfort to enable employees to take well-calibrated risks (Dobra-Kiel, 2023).

This definition is complemented by the Behave framework – Reveal-EX™ – which offers a unique perspective on psychological safety. It breaks it down into three key enablers: growth, belonging and resilience. Each enabler is measured through a combination of comfort and discomfort factors.

  • Comfort encompasses elements that foster a supportive environment, empowering employees to assist customers effectively.
  • Discomfort encompasses the necessity of taking risks and stepping outside comfort zones, including admitting mistakes, taking ownership of challenges and advocating for customer needs, even if it means challenging internal processes.

Maintaining this balance between comfort and discomfort is crucial. An excessively comfortable environment might stifle innovation (Degges-White, 2024) and honest feedback to customers. Conversely, an environment fraught with discomfort could lead to employee burnout and a reluctance to engage with customers.

How does psychological safety lead to customer satisfaction?

Psychological safety can elevate customer satisfaction in numerous ways.

  1. Honest feedback: Psychological safety allows employees to share customer feedback, both positive and negative, leading to improved products and services.
  2. Empowered problem-solving: When employees feel safe offering solutions, they can collaborate effectively with customers to resolve issues.
  3. Deeper relationships: When employees feel valued, they’re more likely to go the extra mile for customers, which in turn, forges deeper connections with customers.

To enable this, there are a few tips that companies can use to start nurturing psychological safety.

  1. Lead by example: Demonstrate psychological safety yourself by being open to feedback and admitting mistakes.
  2. Recognise and reward well-calibrated risk-taking: Celebrate employees who step outside their comfort zone for the benefit of customers.
  3. Empower employees to make decisions: Give employees ownership over customer interactions.
  4. Focus on learning from mistakes: View mistakes as opportunities for growth, not punishment.

As companies strive to enhance customer satisfaction, nurturing psychological safety is paramount. It is not just about improving workplace culture – it’s about forging enduring relationships with customers. When employees feel psychologically secure, they feel valued, igniting a genuine desire to exceed expectations for customers.

Written by Dr Alexandra Dobra-Kiel, our Innovation & Strategy Director. Contact us today to see how we can help create a work environment where employees can well-calibrated risks and customer satisfaction thrives.

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Dr. Alexandra Dobra-Kiel - Innovation & Strategy Director

Author:Dr. Alexandra Dobra-Kiel - Innovation & Strategy Director