Business Posts

To Build a Customer-First Organization, You Have To Put Customers Second

To Build a Customer-First Organization, You Have To Put Customers Second

By General Robert Van Antwerp

11 years ago




Last week I took part in a two day Strategy Meeting here at The Flippen Group to do a check of our strength in three areas:

  1. Impact Strength (Our Clients)
  2. People Strength (Our Teammates)
  3. Financial Strength (Ability to Invest in Clients and Teammates)

At the end of the second day our CEO asked me to do what we call the “launch”—end on a high note, win one for the gipper, say something inspirational, etc.  To begin the launch, I asked one of our founders this question: “If we could only focus on one of the strengths above, which one would it be?”  He thought for a few seconds, smiled and said, “I would focus on People Strength—if we focus on our own teammates, they will impact our clients and build financial strength.”

The message of my launch was this: If you want to build a customer-first organization, you have to put customers second!  Your employees/teammates must come first because your people will only treat your customers as well as they are being treated.  If your people are passionate about what they do and are treated special, they will treat clients in a special way.  Clients will then feel like they themselves come first, which will give you Impact Strength.

Focusing on your people is easier said than done.  It takes time and it takes an investment all while trying to get the day-to-day tasks completed.  But not investing in your people will eventually catch up with you.

Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, wrote in his book Pour Your Heart Into It that the key to his success is to recruit well-educated people who are eager to communicate his passion for coffee.  In an industry with 300% turnover a year, he set out to hire the best people and was willing to pay them more and offer health benefits that weren’t available elsewhere.  His employee retention was 5x the industry average.  More importantly, he attracted people with great attitudes who made their customers feel welcome and at home.  “We aren’t in the coffee business serving people.  We’re in the people business serving coffee,” he says.

Makes you want to be a barista, doesn’t it?!

General Robert Van Antwerp

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