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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Team Members or Customers...who comes first?

Conventional wisdom in business is that customers come first. Let's face it; if you didn't have customers, you wouldn't have a business, right? Therefore, we make statements like "the customer is always right." I've even told team members that the only "unforgivable" sin, as far as I was concerned...the action that would get them fired immediately, was being rude to a customer.

Lately, I've read that a few organizations out in the business world put their employees ahead of their customers. Now, I have heard about instances in just about any business where really horrible customers were encouraged or invited to find a new store or business to visit. This "putting the employees first" idea is more proactive than letting a customer move on. It sounds like a strategy or basic tenet of that organization.

The justification is that, if you hire properly and have the right culture, along with training, encouraging, challenging, and rewarding your team members, an almost automatic by-product will be an unparalleled customer experience. If companies ensure they have the best teams in the world, then customers will stand in line to do business with them.

That's an interesting thought. I guess I can see that. It's kind of a tangent off what I've always said, "if you take care of your people, then the projects, tasks, and mission take care of themselves."

What do you think? Who comes first: customers or employees?

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