The slogans resonate on posters in corporate break rooms across industries. “Customer First”; “The Customer is King”; “Customer is always right”. While noble in intent, I think there’s a fundimental flaw here; both in the messaging and in how this is translated in execution.
Think about who is responsible for delighting your customers? It’s the people in your organization. So, when employees continually hear “our customers come first”, what that translates to for the employee is that they, your most valuable asset, are somewhere down the line in importance. Maybe #2, but most likely even lower on the list. In practice, this creates the opposite effect as it has a demoralizing impact on the front-line workers that interact with customers every day.
It’s my experience that the most innovative, customer-centric organizations (Zappos, Ritz Carlton, Google, Apple, Southwest Airlines) whether that innovation is product, service or organizationally driven, understand that nurturing employees, the area where leadership has the most interpersonal influence, translates directly into superior customer experiences.
Think about that job you had where you couldn’t wait to get up and go to work because you loved what you did. You loved who you worked for. How can that feeling not naturally translate into your approach to that next customer interaction?