Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The U.S. Constitution enshrines happiness as an inalienable right – for a reason. Autonomy, or the feeling that your life – its activities and habits – are self-chosen and self-endorsed, is a greater predictor of happiness than any other objective measure including wealth, attractiveness, and popularity.

Yale psychologist Judith Rodin demonstrated the positive correlation between happiness and autonomy. Rodin encouraged depressed nursing home patients to exert more control in their lives, asking them to make small changes like asking for different foods for dinner, turning the air conditioning on or off, rearranging room furniture, and even altering the facility’s operating policies.

Our findings are similar. In research we conducted for out book The DNA of Customer Experience, we found a statistically meaningful relationship between happiness and autonomy. One of the most striking findings was that happiness outweighed other emotions in terms of creating value for the customer, driving customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. For this reason, we incorporate a variety of “happiness” indicators in the Emotional Signature research we conduct for organizations.

The freedom to make choices, even irrational choices, is the most important prerequisite for building a great customer experience. Any limitation on customer behavior runs the risk of reducing his or her feeling of autonomy and the negative reactions associated with it. Since happy employees lead to happy customers, this same philosophy also holds true for those who deliver your customer experience on the frontlines.

Colin Shaw, Are Your Customers Happy?

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

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