I read about a unique and interesting study recently. The primary aim of the study was examining the impact of various combinations of employees and customers seeing or not seeing each other while work is performed and how these combinations affect customer satisfaction with the product provided.
An Eye on Cooks and Diners
Researchers Ryan Buell and Tami Kim set up scenarios in a live cafeteria environment:
- Scenario One: Cooks and diners not in view of one another
- Scenario Two: Diners only could view cooks
- Scenario Three: Cooks only could view diners
- Scenario Four: Diners and cooks both in view of one another
In each of these scenarios, diners would rate the quality of the food. The key finding in this study was that cooks who could view diners while preparing their customer’s food had the highest food quality ratings.
The Extra Ingredient in the Recipe of Work
Of this finding, Buell notes:
“We’ve learned that seeing the customer can make employees feel more appreciated, more satisfied with their jobs, and more willing to exert effort. It’s important to note that it wasn’t just the perception of quality that improved—the food objectively got better.”
Though not difficult to understand, this is a powerful finding from a unique study.
Who Are You Serving through Your Work
Most readers likely will not identify with the specifics of the cook-diner relationship. But all of us can think about the people we serve through our work, whether we are paid or not. Who are the customers, students, members, friends, family, and colleagues who benefit from our work?
The takeaway is the importance of focusing on these people while we work. And, if at all possible, to create an environment where we can regularly see those we serve through our work.
Keeping Your Eye on Your Customer
If you care about adding value to the lives of your customers—those you serve—find ways to keep these people in mind and in view while you do your work. Buell and Kim’s research suggests that you will perform best and provide the best products and services when you do.
Keep your eyes on the people you serve!