This political season is not only memorable because of the potpourri of candidates, but surfacing of issues, which cause consternation and incite prickly protests. One issue that has percolated to the top is the minimum wage, and income equality.
One side vehemently defends corporations and small businesses, saying raising wages will jeopardize their ability to be competitive and invest in areas of growth. They speak of the need for living wages like three-martini lunches, unnecessary and a drain on their profitability.
The other side sees the issue entirely differently, arguing low and stagnant wages make it hard for people to pay for necessities, save for unexpected expenses, and put away a nest egg for retirement. Elementary economics shows people who earn more, buy more, and thereby stimulate the economy.
If you make barely enough to buy food, pay for rent, utilities, and a bus pass, you’re contributed little to the local economy. But if your earnings jump up a few dollars more per hour, you’re more likely to eat out, purchase clothing and other personal goods, invest in a car, visit gas stations, see a movie, attend a community college, and much more.
In addition, earning more money, enables people to contribute to society by paying taxes. Currently, 47% of Americans don’t pay federal income tax because they earn too little, have deductions or tax credits, or pay other alternative payroll taxes.
Paying people a livable wage, results in higher job satisfaction. Employees with are unhappy on the job typically lack motivation, perform poorly, and possess negative attitudes, which can be conveyed to customers.
Marketo recently published the SlideShare, “Customers Are Your Prospects, Too: Unlock the Secrets to Keeping Customers Happy and Coming Back for More, which stated for every poor customer experience, brands lose an average of 65% of the revenue they would have earned from the affected customer during the following year.1
They further elaborated, revealed 49% of U.S. consumers say they’re more likely to switch providers now than they were 10 years ago. This change in brand loyalty stems from consumers having better access to information to more knowledgeable choices.
From a retail point-of-view, every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to strengthen (or potential lose) brand loyalty. In a study published by Verint Systems2, the customer service-related issue that lead customers to switch brands include cheaper pricing (31%), rude staff (18%), and too many mistakes (16%).
If you’re ever been in a Costco, even when they’re exceptionally busy, the employees are courteous, helpful, and efficient. You can sense the pride they have in what they do, and the quality of the products and services they offer.
In an article published by Huffington Post3, the starting pay at Costco is $11.50 per hour with the average employee wage being $21 per hour, not including overtime. In addition, around 88% of Costco employees have company-sponsored health insurance.
In contrast, many retailers and service companies start employees at minimum wage, and shave down their hours so they don’t have to supply them with full healthcare coverage. What they get are employees who appear cheerful on the outside, but inside may be wondering how to pay for necessities, juggle childcare, or pay for housing. Some may be dealing with health issue because they may have inadequate coverage or can’t afford to miss a day of work to get care or stay home and recuperate.
This isn’t simply an economic issue. It’s the faces of companies.
It’s the people checking and bagging groceries, ringing up sales, stocking shelves, pumping gas, preparing and serving food, cutting hair and manicuring nails, and much more. These hard-working people, are the faces of companies, not managers hidden in offices, district managers making their rounds or senior leadership tucked away in spacious corporate headquarters.
Yet, the people on the frontline are usually the ones with the lowest pay, inadequate benefits, and the constant fear of losing their jobs.
Thomas A. Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” The opportunity to strengthen your business, build customer loyalty, and most importantly drive efficiencies and innovations is rooted in paying employees a livable wage that makes them feel good about their job, their contributions, and the overarching need to identify and meet customers’ needs.
1 ”Avoiding CX Failure Fallout,” 2016, SDL
2 “Customer-Centricity: The Rules of Engagement,” 2015 Verint Systems, Inc.
3 “11 Reasons to Love Costco That Have Nothing to do with Shopping,” November 19, 2013 HuffPost Business