Employees First, Customers Second

It absolutely goes without say that today’s business environment is ultra-competitive.  Over time, brick-and-mortar evolved to click-and-mortar which essentially leveled the competitive playing field.  Today, your new competitors may not only be located around the corner or in the next town over, but half the way around the world!  In fact, technology advancements have created the new “self-serve” business models whereby customers no longer need to interact with an employee to seek out what they are looking for.  For example, do you need a customer service rep to help you open a new account on Facebook or Twitter… or hundreds of other companies online?

Now, regardless of the business model, a critical component in the success of any business venture is the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE!! And, if we truly examine what it takes to provide an outstanding customer experience, it all starts with your employees!  Not your product… not your price… not your location – your employees!  Regardless of your title, if you work for the company in some capacity or another, you are, in my opinion, an employee and it’s important that the company embodies that employees come first and your customers second.

It’s not rocket science – to everyone.  In fact,  “it’s elementary my dear Watson.” If you take care of the people who are responsible for taking care of the other people (your customers), you’ll have a sustainable competitive advantage that will yield tremendous results.  Want proof?  Check out Fortune Magazine’s list of best companies to work for in 2011.  These are companies that are highly successful within their respective fields because they first take care of their employees who in turn produce outstanding results catapulting the organization far ahead of their competitors!

From an implementation perspective, it may not take much at all.  Companies (or leaders within the organization) can do little things that make all the difference.  To cite a recent example, more companies are implementing flexible vacation policies because they realize employees are capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong and they shouldn’t have to ask for a day off.

So, what’s the moral of the story?  It’s not about your business model… it’s about your employees and the ROI they are capable of delivering when the right investment is made within them.  Remember, people want to be a part of something great in their lives and, for many, that greatness is achieved when being associated with a great company.  By taking care of their basic needs and providing them the autonomy to be successful, you’ll not only have a great work environment but you’ll also put a smile on Mr. Maslow’s face…

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