Nicole Maynard, Head of User Experience at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, discussed eight easy ways to integrate happiness into the workplace to improve customer experience.
Maynard began her keynote presentation at the 2018 Customer Experience Leadership Forum held on April 17 in Chicago by telling a story of how an excellent experience as a customer at a Hyatt Hotel led her to be a huge fan of the brand and, eventually, to her position as the Head of User Experience at Hyatt. “All of us here today are responsible for creating those experiences that make people happy.”
Maynard recounted some research she did on happiness in which she discovered that changing our thought patterns rewires our brain. “I wove this insight into my work and the interactions with my team, and I began to see some impressive results—an increase in engagement, more creative solutions, and a really good energy among my team. I also learned that if we aren’t happy, we’re going to have a heck of a time making others happy. We have to make our bosses happy, our employees happy, and our customers happy. Happiness trickles down. You can’t have great customer satisfaction if you don’t have high employee satisfaction. Studies have been done showing a direct correlation between the investment a company makes in the happiness of its employees and positive customer experience,” she stated.
“I wove this insight into my work and the interactions with my team, and I began to see some impressive results—an increase in engagement, more creative solutions, and a really good energy among my team.”
“If we all want to be happy, and are focused on trying to make ourselves happy, why isn’t the world a happier place?” she asked. “One reason is we’re constantly bombarded by bad news. Why? Because it gets our attention. Our brains are wired to be on the look-out for danger. This is called negativity bias, which means we focus on the bad way more than on the good. Every time something bad happens, our amygdala is activated to send out alarm signals and stress hormones, while the hippocampus creates the memory that we don’t want that bad experience to happen again. Because negative experiences outweigh positive experiences in our brain, it can take as many as 20 positive experiences to balance this out, depending how bad the negative was,” she explained.
“Negative experiences outweigh positive experiences in our brain, it can take as many as 20 positive experiences to balance this out, depending how bad the negative was.”
“So, what this means is, if a customer has one bad experience with your brand, you have a lot to make up for. But, the good news is, our brains are malleable. This is called neuroplasticity, which means we can change our brains to become more fertile ground for positive thoughts. Our experiences create connections, called neural circuits, which are similar to muscles in that the more you use them, the stronger they become. Neurons that fire together wire together, meaning the more we focus on the good, the more good we see in the world around us.”
“So, what this means is, if a customer has one bad experience with your brand, you have a lot to make up for”
Maynard outlined eight ways to weave happiness into our day-to-day lives:
-Mindfulness meditation. “This is easy, and there are great apps that can help.” Maynard then did a brief mindfulness meditation with the audience.
-Make time to do what you enjoy. “When you’re feeling stressed, divert your attention with something you enjoy. This doesn’t need to take a lot of time.”
-Reminisce about the good times. “This works really well when someone on your team is upset. Remind them about when they did something well or solved a big problem.”
-Walk it off. “Any activity that increases your heart rate for at least 20 minutes releases endorphins that help you focus and dissipate stress hormones.”
-Feed your brain. “Certain foods support brain processes and plasticity—broccoli, spinach, walnuts, and, of course, chocolate.”
-Give. “This can be a compliment or a donation. Donating as a team really boosts morale.”
-Give thanks. “No matter what’s going on, there’s always something to be grateful about. Breathing, for example.”
-Factor in playtime. “Play is a fast track to happiness. It can inject creative energy into the office. People feel safer if they’re in a play environment, and this enhances creativity.”
“Reminisce about the good times. “This works really well when someone on your team is upset. Remind them about when they did something well or solved a big problem.”
“These are all small things that we can integrate into our day to day,” said Maynard. “The hardest thing is remembering to do them, but it’s well worth it. Happiness is contagious.”