The Customer Does NOT Come First

Most of us have the phrases “the customer always comes first” or “the customer is always right”, but I would like to challenge that notion, and explain why I believe it’s just plain WRONG!

Recently on a trip to Montana, I read several books that made me turn the idea of “The Customer is King” on its head and have subsequently caused me to review some of my coaching approaches

I now firmly believe that it is your EMPLOYEES, rather than your CUSTOMERS, that should be your primary focus.

This is not an argument for ignoring the client/customer. I do, however, strongly agree with Stephen Covey* , when he says – ” Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

Can your team really deliver excellence to your customers if they’re not brought to greatness themselves and if they’re not treated as “great”?

In his book “The Dream Manager”, Matthew Kelly told the story of a cleaning company that implemented the full-time position of “Dream Manager” to help employees fulfill their personal dreams.

Some wanted relatively simple things – to finish a college degree, or to be able to buy a house – others wanted vacations to Hawaii or a month long cruise. Beginning with his core belief, that a company can only become the-best-version-of-itself to the extent that its employees are becoming better-versions-of-themselves, Kelly explored the connection between the dreams we are chasing personally and the way we all engage at work.

Tackling head-on the growing problem of employee disengagement, Kelly examined the dynamic collaboration that is unleashed when people work together to achieve company objectives and personal dreams.

If you haven’t read the book it’s a short read – about 2 hours – and will cause you to re-evaluate how you treat your employees.

In “Start With Why”, Simon Sinek advocates discussing the “Why” not the “What” method of motivating employees. If you can explain to employees why they are undertaking tasks, and not just beat them up about “how” to better achieve their responsibilities, you will achieve far better employee engagement and subsequently a much higher level of customer service.

Jim Collins wrote “Good to Great” in 2001. In analyzing over 1,400 companies he found that, at the heart of those rare and truly great entities, was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner.

There was no charismatic CEO or grand strategic plan – all of these companies started out saying “How do we find, recruit and train the best people”. They created a better culture, one that people wanted to be, and stay, a part off. The strategy and growth naturally followed.

The answer is clear; your staff are your best asset. Applaud and promote the best ones, and by all means weed out the bad ones, but please, please don’t ignore them, because it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is – if the employees are not fully vested in your company you will be losing customers very quickly.

If you feel inspired, and want to take the first step toward making meaningful changes in your business, please don’t hesitate to call and schedule your initial, no obligation consultation with me (Simon Ellett) at 440-385-6737!

* “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey , 2004