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Customer Service – Which Comes First – the Customer or Your Staff?

Which Comes First - The Customer or Your Staff?

Which Comes First – The Customer or Your Staff?

Customer service is an obvious and crucial focus for any company looking for sustainable financial success.  You MUST focus on customers.  You MUST value and appreciate the business, revenue, and referrals they bring you. Customers today are leaving businesses that take them for granted.  Customers are looking for those businesses that understand they are only one option and make it their goal to be the BEST option in terms of customer service and experience.

We try to give customers everything they want… and more.  We try to please them to keep them not only satisfied, but loyal.  Yes, without the customer, you wouldn’t be in business.

But there is another factor in this equation… your staff.

It all begins with hiring the right folks to represent your company and serve your customers. Start with the interview process when determining the customer focus of your candidates.  Have specific customer service intent questions included in the interview process.  By intent, I mean give them a realistic customer interaction scenario and ask how they would like to see it handled.  Ask open ended questions to hear their stories. Have them tell you a story of when THEY THEMSELVES have experienced wonderful and terrible service as a customer.

Engaged employees are a critical complement to the customer focus.  Engaged employees know that when the company succeeds, they succeed.  The way to determine engaged employees is the same way you connect with your customers – speak with them, ask questions, what do they like, what do they not like.  What are their professional and personal goals and how can you help them achieve those goals?  

Engagement can be the determining factor in your company’s long term success.  Find out from your staff if they feel that management and leadership make them feel appreciated in a way that makes them WANT to come to work, not HAVE to come to work.  Also ask them if htey would ever recommend their friends to work for your company.  These questions should serve as valuable conversation starters to determine the pulse of your staff engagement.

Like the chicken and the egg conundrum, you can’t have customers without your staff to serve them, and you cant have staff serving someone who doesn’t yet exist.  Both are truly equally important.

I DO suggest though, that you focus the first 70% of your efforts on your internal staff to show them what service looks like to you and train them accordingly.  From that point, spread the love 50/50 between customers and staff.  You must always interact with both from similar perspectives.  Actively connect with them, find out what they like and dislike about your company, and ask what they’d like to see to keep them loyal to your company.  Then, whenever possible, act and implement.  

Once you’ve done all of the above… rinse and repeat…. forever.  There is NO END to focusing on your customers or staff.  You lose one… you’ll lose the other.

Click here to discover even more facts about the importance of focusing internally from one of the industry leaders… Zappos.com.  They’ve built their reputation SOLEY focusing on the customer experience and this interview shares how they’ve gone about it to become the success they are today.  My gift to you!

4 Responses to “Customer Service – Which Comes First – the Customer or Your Staff?”

By vOCALCOM - 13 January 2015 Reply

Fantastic article–it’s so important to think about employees–training them well, gathering their feedback so the company can refine practices to better serve customers–then it’s a win-win situation!

By Kristina Evey - 13 January 2015 Reply

Thanks so much for the kind words! Your staff is truly crucial in the ultimate customer experience, so why chance missing an opportunity to improve their internal experience as well? Thanks for stopping by and I hope to “see” you again here soon!

[…] Customer Service – Which Comes First – the Customer or Your Staff? – This article explains why the answer needs to be both. (Note: For another perspective, check out our post Customer Before Employee, Employee Over Customer.) […]

By Shep Hyken - 13 October 2014 Reply

Kristina, this article is spot on. You can’t focus on customers without also focusing on your employees. Even though a company typically starts a business with the customer in mind, at some point the emphasis has to shift to the employees. And, that should be sooner than later. They are the ones that drive the customer experience. It’s really simple: What’s happening on the inside of a company is felt on the outside by the customer. Thanks for sharing some great customer focused wisdom!

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