Short update on last year’s research: There is almost no relationship between employee and customer satisfaction

This article is intended for readers who remember last year’s article or have read the corresponding chapter in our book Customer Experience Strategy – Design and Implementation. It will be difficult to understand without the context provided by the longer article. The full post is here.


The 2018 study confirms the 2017 finding that there is a very weak relationship between employee and customer satisfaction. The study used data for 347 large companies that sell to US consumers. Customer satisfaction data came from the American Customer Satisfaction Index reports. Employee satisfaction came from hundreds of thousands of employee satisfaction ratings of the same companies on Industries with a high level of face-to-face human contact between employees and customers are exceptions and have at least some relationship between the two factors, though less than most readers would expect.

Overall relationship

The ‘R2’ value in the graph below is the linear regression result for the relationship between the ACSI and Glassdoor data across all 345 companies. The number means that variations in the Glassdoor score explain 4.4% of the variations in the ACSI score. Last year’s number for 336 companies was 0.00853, or 1% in round terms.


High-touch companies

I used my own judgement to identify 125 companies as high-touch, meaning employees regularly interact with customers. Variations in Glassdoor scores explain 9.6% of the variation in ACSI scores. Last year’s number was 3.4%, for 117 companies.



Low-touch companies

For the remaining 220 companies, variations in employee satisfaction explain 5.1% of customer satisfaction. Last year’s number was 1.1% for 119 companies.



High-touch companies are concentrated in the transportation, retail and accommodation sectors. Here is a table that gives the linear regression scores by sector from the study. 0.313 for the Transportation sector means that variations in Glassdoor scores explain 31.3% of the variation in the ACSI scores, for example.


Employee happiness does not drive customer happiness in the majority of companies. Happiness and engagement are difference concepts. People can be happy with their pay, commute to work, the food in the cafeteria and other factors that have nothing to do with customers. There is no standard way of measuring engagement, though all metrics I have seen support the theory that highly-engaged employees produce superior results for customers. For more information and the location of the data files, please consult the full article here.