Who Comes First – The Customer or The Employee?

The age old conundrum, who is more important customers or employees? This question which I’m sure has many different answers, is an interesting one. Without customers we don’t have a business, however the same applies that with no employees we also have no business.

I grew up with the philosophy of putting the customer first and the customer is always right. I’m reminded of the Beechworth Bakeries founder, Tom O’Toole’s mantra – Rule number 1 take care of the customer, rule number 2 take care of the customer and I’m sure you can guess rule number 3! Customers are very important and I love the opportunity to surprise and delight them, which is actually not that hard in most cases.

My thinking has moved these days more to the importance of looking after our employees and putting them first. This is Richard Branson’s way at Virgin, and he’s been pretty successful so far. He is renowned for putting his employees first, knowing that when they have this support, they will do the right thing by the customer – and this is what its all about. Staff who know they have support to make the right decisions inside agreed boundaries to deliver the exceptional service your business aspires to.

I was prompted to write this blog because another of my favourite leadership gurus Simon Sinek, posted a short (4 minutes) video covering this very topic that I thought was well worth sharing. Sinek is a big believer in putting your employees first and covers off some interesting information as well as a fascinating story about an employee called Noah and Noah’s completely different experience with two separate employers. One where he loves his job, the other where he keeps his head down and he just wants to get through the day without getting in trouble. The different attitude and motivation formed by Noah is huge between the two businesses.

Sinek also mentions another two companies that are renowned for their exceptional customer service, yet have the same philosophy of putting their employees first.

It looks to me that successful businesses are focusing more on their employees. This starts with recruiting the right people, inducting, training and coaching them to live and breathe the businesses values and vision. When this is done well, employees will respond with delivering their all to help your business to be successful and the outcome will be exceptional customer service that customers love.

Enjoy the video.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.