In the past couple of weeks, we’ve fielded multiple calls from speakers bureaus or prospective clients wondering if I could come give a speech on how to make employees or customers more “happy.”
Perhaps it’s because of the monster hit by Pharrell Williams…maybe it’s business books like “The Happiness Advantage” or, “The Happiness Project.” Heck, maybe it’s even “Happy, Happy, Happy” by reality TV star Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty.”
But, here’s the problem: I don’t believe you should have a goal to help your employees — or your customers — to be “happy.”
When I read dictionary definitions of “happy,” I see several descriptions of either brief or passing moments that frequently happen of a random nature. Or, I see other definitions that describe mere “satisfaction” — as in, she was “happy with the level of service she received.”
Maybe this is at the core of my bias — I’ve just finished reading a couple of articles about how lottery winners frequently go bankrupt. I’m certain they are “happy” beyond description when they discover the numbers of their ticket are perfectly aligned with the results of the serendipitous drawing. However, given the eventual outcome…do they remain “happy”? Probably not.
I strongly prefer the word “joy” — or “joyful” — as being infinitely superior to “happy.”
The reason is that “joy” implies both a deeper…and a more sustained and significant…feeling of substantial pleasure and thrill.
The service, for example, at Sullivan’s in Indianapolis makes me happy — however, the reason that I’m a loyal customer is that it is a JOY to eat there. The individual occasion is one that is happy…but, it’s the sustained pleasure that makes me a repeat and committed customer.
To use a more outrageous example, if the happy lottery winners bought cars and boats with their winnings, those possessions won’t continue to inspire happiness as everything else goes down in flames. However, if the lucky winners took their gain and contributed to organizations that would continue to do great work even if a personal bankruptcy ensured, a persistent feeling of joy remains a potential outcome.
Don’t get me wrong — individual occasions of happiness are building blocks of sustained joy. Yet, happiness — at least in the working definition that I’m employing here — can also indicate mere “satisfaction.” Every study I’ve seen indicates that simply satisfying your customers or employees is a caliber of service that is not high enough to create loyalty and drive retention.
You see, I’m not advocating the point of “not making customers or employees happy” because I prefer an alternative of “making them sad or mad.”
Rather, I’m strongly suggesting to you that mere “happiness” is a standard that is neither high enough nor prolonged enough for you and your organization. It’s not enough for you to be endearing…you want to be enduring, as well.
Organizations that create distinction — and deliver an Ultimate Customer Experience ® for both internal and external customers — not only create moments of happiness…they inspire a consistently compelling sense of joy.
(If you’d like more information on this — it will be addressed in future posts, and in my forthcoming book.)