Does Your Company Contribute to "Gross National Happiness"?

Posted on 2014/03/05

How do you measure the happiness of a nation? One measure often used, Gross National Product, examines the total financial value of all services and goods in a nation. As can attest to, however, money doesn't always equal happiness. While the financial value of what's produced may rank relatively high, if the money is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small amount of people, the nation's overall happiness isn't that high. Additionally, other measures of population happiness are often overlooked in gross national product metrics. A city may be bursting at the seams with money, but mired in pollution, corruption, and noise. Citizens might make products that let them pay for housing and food, but if medical care is unaffordable, sickness may drag down the population's overall happiness.

Why Are Happy Customers Important?

All of this is important for your company, because if people aren't happy, just as they might decide to leave a city or country, they might leave your business. Soon after, even companies with high profits might see their bottom line shrink. Poor customer service might make your customers less happy. Due to this, it's important for you to consider not only how your business contributes to Gross National Product, but, to coin a phrase from Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, "Gross National Happiness". The term arose in the 1970s, in an effort by Bhutan to measure their national success not only in terms of Gross National Product, but also environmental health, mental wellness, and physical health.

Companies That Stress Customer Happiness

Some companies use customer happiness, similar to "Gross National Happiness", as a tool to leverage sales. For example, in the US's Pacific North West region, fast food restaurant chain Burgerville specializes in promoting customer satisfaction, rather than solely relying on advertising campaigns to raise sales. With environmentally friendly packaging and local foods, they make customers feel good about eating at their restaurant, not only raising regional happiness, but securing brand loyalty as well. Indirectly, this also helps to raise their contribution to Gross National Product, because they can charge higher prices than other restaurants for the intangible feeling of community contribution they offer customers.

Promoting community contribution as a way to make clients happier is nothing new; law firms, construction contractors, and cafes across the globe contribute to local causes. Sometimes it takes the form of "Adopt-a-Highway" participation, or the sponsorship of a local free clinic's fundraising banquet. This speaks to the concept of "Enlightened Self Interest", in which these contributions encourage potential customers to do business with the company, while actively helping the wider community.

The Flipside: What Results From Unhappy Customers

Conversely, bad customer service experiences not only decrease community happiness, but they also decrease a company's bottom line. People listen to stories of bad service, thirsting for juicy details, and so not only will an upset customer consider leaving your company, but potential customers may never do business with you. Outside of a potential short term financial benefit from denying your customers request, the impact of having customers angry about their experience with customer service will be negative on your company.

Thus, when developing your approach to customer complaints and concerns, think about how your company is contributing to Gross National Happiness, not just Gross National Product. Taking a broader perspective is great not only for your community, but for your business's long term health as well.

Hailey Harper is a marketing strategist and business writer whose work has been featured on over 40 websites. Her specialties include strategic marketing, management, and public relations.