Who Comes First: The Customer Or The Employee?

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The conventional wisdom says that companies must always put the customer first. In any services business, however, the true value is created in the interface between the employee and the customer. So, by putting employees first, you can bring about fundamental change in the way a company creates and delivers unique value for its customers and differentiates itself from its competitors.”

THAT’S ACCORDING TO Vineer Nayar in Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down

Do You Agree or Disagree?

See what others have said during a recent webinar on Best Business and Leadership Practices.

Putting Customers First: Customer Loyalty

  • Customers drive your product. They should always come first if you intend to make any type of profit.
  • Organizations need to know the customer priorities in order to hire and train and reward employees accordingly.
  • In a competitive and open marketplace, putting customers first gives you a chance to be the customer’s first choice.
  • When organizations put customers first, the customer feels appreciated, valued and welcomed. In return, they get a word-of-mouth advertisement.

Putting Employees First: Employee Loyalty

  • Excited employees will make your customer strategy a reality.
  • Unhappy, un-empowered employees are an impediment to great customer service.
  • When you have an employee that really cares about the product and the customer experience, you‘ll have greater customer loyalty and retention.
  • Employees must get how customer service fits the company vision and the company must show appreciation for good customer service.

Or Is It Both?

  • Employees and customers are links in the same strategy and every link in the chain is important.
  • It is impossible to choose. Your business strategy needs to be strong for both customers and employees.
  • You need to empower your employees with knowledge and support and also value and satisfy your customers.
  • Teach employees what your overall customer experience goal is. Then show them the power their work has on your customers.

At the end of the day, companies need to find the strategy that works best for their business, practice or professional firm. My experience with for profits, non-profits and even government agencies is that long term success requires fostering employee engagement at all levels and in all functions. Everyone’s job should be considered important.

At the same time, you need to be customer centric – that means knowing who your customers are, what they expect and how best to serve them – and that changes. So what worked yesterday, may not work today and who knows tomorrow. Welcome to the world of change!

[su_box title=”SMART MOVES TIP” style=”glass” box_color=”#2f598a”]Make sure the customer is at the heart of your business. No matter whether you manufacture, distribute sell or treat people, you are in the business to serve your customer, clients or constituents. Is everyone, including the front line, the support staff, the sales force and all your managers, focused on delivering outstanding customer experiences every single day? At the same engaged, passionate employees benefit a company as much as dedicated, satisfied customers. They stay longer, work more creatively, and go the extra mile. How engaged are your employees? See 10 Smart Employee Engagement Strategies.[/su_box]

Readers, what do you think – who comes first- the customer or the employee? Let’s start a conversation! You can also contact me at [email protected]

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If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens.” To bring that magic to your leadership and business, subscribe to Marcia’s monthly Execubrief: Business Edge- Smart Growth Strategies with insights, inspiration and intelligence on how to build great businesses that matter- those that do well and do good.

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Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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  1. I believe that both the customer and the employee come first. The customer is who gives you business as an employer, but the employee is who satisfies the customer to return. Through my entry level jobs I heard this a lot, that the customer was always right. This phrase always stood out to me in a negative way. Maybe it is not about the customer always being right, but making the customer believe that they are right?