Today I’m pleased to share a guest post by my good friend, Shep Hyken, who needs no introduction!

Many people ask me what the secret to happy customers is. The answer? Well, it’s not really a secret, but I’ll tell you anyway. The secret to happy customers is happy employees. So, the question then becomes… how do you get happy employees?

I’ve previously written about the five phases—or cults as I call them—that customers go through from the time they start doing business with you to when they ideally become loyal customers. The concept of these cults comes from my book, The Cult of the Customer, which was recently updated and re-released. Although the fivecults from the book focus on customers, they are just as appropriate for employees.

Let’s take a journey through the five cults. Remember, what is good for the customer is also good for the employee. Understanding these five phases will help you understand how to make your employees—and therefore your customers—happy.

The Cult of Uncertainty: This is where the employee journey begins—day one of their experience with a company. It begins before they are even hired, with the application and interview up until the first day on the job. New employees don’t know what to expect, and so they have a feeling of uncertainty. They can only hope for a great experience. It is the company’s job to inform the employee of what to expect from day one, and remove any lingering uncertainty as soon as possible.

The Cult of Alignment: This is a crucial stage in which new employees learn about the company’s vision and mission. Some of this should occur during the hiring process to ensure that potential candidates are a good fit for the company culture. During this phase, employees start to align with the values and behaviors.

The Cult of Experience: In this cult, employees are adjusting to the new job, their fellow employees, and the management and leadership they report to. In other words, they are beginning to feel comfortable, even though their experience is still new. There is less uncertainty. They find stability. This leads us to the next cult….

The Cult of Ownership: An employee in the Cult of Ownership owns their experience. What does that look like? It means they are entrenched in the company culture and in total alignment with its mission. They know what to expect and understand how they fit in to the overall organization. This all sounds ideal, but there’s one more cult to follow….

The Cult of Amazement: This is where you want your employees to be—and the sooner they get there the better. So, how do you get them there? You’ll know your employees are in the Cult of Amazement when they can describe their job using the word always followed by something positive. It’s up to everyone in an organization to create that consistent amazing experience—and it’s the consistency (that “always”) that sets this cult apart.

What does amazement mean? Let’s expand on the concept. Amazement is created by happy employees who are willing to work hard to engage better with both customers and colleagues. Who doesn’t want that? But beware: it’s entirely possible for an employee to move from amazement back to uncertainty in certain situations.It could happen when because of a coworker leaving, a change in leadership, a drop in sales, a company buyout, a merger, or even an interaction with a difficult colleague or manager. Any of these scenarios (and more) could break an employee’s confidence and move them back into uncertainty. They become concerned about their future. Remember what I said about consistency? Don’t let a lack of consistency cost you your best employees.

The goal is to get all employees into the Cult of Amazement—and to keep them there. To do this, you must prove to them that their job is secure, regardless of any changes the company may face. It’s often said that change is the only thing that is constant. But employees will remain in the Cult of Amazement if you prove that these changes are only minor bumps in the road—and that bigger changes don’t diminish the importance of their role and responsibilities. Confident employees give the best performance and deliver the best experience to their customers. After all, when employees are in the Cult of Amazement, it’s more likely that your customers will be, too.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. Follow Shep on Twitter: @Hyken.

Image courtesy of Shep Hyken.