Understanding bosses boost performance

Bosses should attempt to understand the personalities of their employees in order to improve performance, a new study has suggested. Published in the Journal of Service Research, the report noted managers can bolster customer relations and enhance repeat business by matching staff members and consumers with similar likes and dislikes.

Investigators from Ruhr University of Bochum, Ilmenau University of Technology and the University of Mannheim found companies should look to improve service by placing an emphasis on building an empathic relationship with customers.

According to the findings, there is a direct link between this approach and customer loyalty, with consumers becoming happier the more empathic they believe a worker is being towards them.

Katherine Lemon, editor of the Journal of Service Research, stated: "Empathic customers are much more likely to forgive a spilt coffee or undercooked steak and empathic employees are much more likely to respond sensitively to customer requests and complaints."

Occupational Digest Kisane Prutton CPsychol, from The Prutton Partnership, commented: "This study is a much yearned for empirical analysis of the role of empathy in customer-employee interactions.

"It provides hard evidence, to date missing from the research literature, demonstrating that employees who have the ability to understand the customer's perspective are good for business.

"A member of staff who acknowledges a customer's concern or takes a genuine interest in finding out about the customer's needs is likely to create a more satisfying experience for the customer, building positive PR and a greater likelihood of repeat business.

"It is not clear from the abstract whether the study found, or the researchers have been led to deduce, that the personality of customers should be matched to the personality of the customer service staff. It would be interesting to understand what is the added value offered by matching personality, over and above that offered by empathy alone.

"One would imagine recruiting staff with high empathy and training employees to be more empathic would be less costly and complex than developing sophisticated routing protocols to match the personality of a customer with a like-minded member of staff."