Teams & Groups

Improving Team Leadership to Increase Customer Satisfaction

Satisfied, loyal customers are essential to the success of almost every business. A happy and loyal customer base can increase profitability for the organization in several ways:
  • These customers tend to purchase more, and may be more likely to pay a premium for quality service.
  • Expenses related to attracting new customers (i.e., marketing costs) can be reduced.
  • Satisfied customers can increase business through “word of mouth” referrals.

The Influence of Team Leadership

New research shows that one way to increase customer satisfaction is to improve the team leadership skills – managers who improve their team leadership skills also enjoy increased satisfaction among their customers. Why is quality team leadership so influential on customer satisfaction? High quality team leadership results in a happier, more cohesive, and more productive team of employees who in turn provide better service to their customers. In addition, effective team leaders provide their team members with the resources to serve their customers most effectively.

What Does Effective Team Leadership Look Like?

Team leadership is “the process of moving or influencing a collection of individuals toward common objectives or vision.”   Effective team leaders:
  • Recruit and select competent team members, and help them successfully integrate into the group.
  • Clearly communicate strategic objectives or vision and share important information about the organization.
  • Help the work team to establish standards for measurement of progress and performance and help the team identify opportunities to improve performance.
  • Encourage mutual trust and acceptance among team members and help the team resolve differences.
  • Take advantage of unique skills of team members and distribute work assignments to best utilize team members’ skills.
  • Promote fairness and equal participation among team members.
  • Help the team develop creative problem solving skills.

Practical Ways to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Organizations can use these findings to improve their customer satisfaction by:
  • Conducting assessments to determine which specific team leadership behaviors are most useful in improving work team effectiveness.
  • Designing and implementing development and training programs to increase managers’ team leadership skills based on assessment results.
  • Track changes in team leadership skills and customer satisfaction in a systematic way to determine how improvements in leadership skills improve customer satisfaction ratings.

Interpretation by:

Michelle Toelle

The DeGarmo Group

This was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Walker, A.G., Smither, J.W., & Waldman, D.A. (2008). A longitudinal examination of concomitant changes in team leadership and customer satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 61, 547-577.