Employees Come First, Not Customers!
Employees come first at some of the most successful companies and organisations on the planet, and if you want to have happy, smiling customers, then "employees come first" may need to be your new mantra!
"Take care of your people and your people will take care of your customers and the cash register will take care of itself" Bill Marriott (source)
Does this seem to go against everything you've ever heard about succeeding in business?
Isn't the customer always right? Isn't the customer always first?
Not according to some of the most successful business people in the world.
Richard Branson readily admits that at Virgin, employees come first.
"It should go without saying, if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job and they are treated well, they're going to be happy" Sir Richard Branson (source)
And at Southwest Airlines, employees come first, customers second, and shareholders third in order of importance.
"We believe that if we treat our employees right, they will treat our customers right, and in turn that results in increased business and profits that make everyone happy" Southwest Airlines (source)
And Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, also puts his employees first and this results in outstanding customer service.
"Contrary to the popular mantra "the customer is always right," Meyer says the best way to ensure a great customer experience is to put your employees first. After all, he adds, there's no other way employees could outperform in front of customers if they don't feel good about themselves. And if that doesn't happen, how can your business outperform before your investors? "That's how I came up with this counterintuitive prioritisation," Meyer says. (Danny Meyer to 'Treps: Put Your Employees First, Customers Will Follow)
All of this makes perfect sense, especially if you consider the extremely high percentages of employees who are unengaged at work. Unengaged people are unhappy people and that's going to have a direct effect on how they interact with your customers.
And disengaged employees can be even more disruptive to your company and its customers because the disengaged may be out to purposely sabotage your business and its reputation.
How well do you take care of your employees? That's a great question to consider if you want to have happy, satisfied customers.
For some ideas on how taking care of your people results in outstanding examples of customer service, read: Building Great Workplaces - A Case Study. It was an eye opener for me when I was working on it and it clearly demonstrates the value of the "employees come first" attitude.
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