Which people are more valuable – good employees or good customers?
That is the question asked in an article of Bloomberg.com with a heading: Great Employees Makes a Good Business. We might place our bets with customers since they are always right and their money is what keeps the company earning.
Surprisingly, the answer to the question isn’t what I thought it would be. Though if there is a situation that demands comparison, one will also realize that the answer does make sense. Employees are what really make a company.
The article illustrated that employees have an enormous effect on sales and profitability in both negative and positive way. It said that one employee can attract 100 customers or drive away the same number of customers. However, when the company decides to keep employees happy, it is expected that the most loyal and hardworking ones can win back those customers that were lost.
Who says so?
A lot of successful CEOs and business founders happen to have the same answer. A few names to mention are Sir Richard Branson, an English business magnate and founder of Virgin Group; Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies which is one of the world’s largest IT firms; and Angela Ahdrendts who was the former CEO of Burberry and now Apple’s new senior vice president of retail and online leader.
“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, Interview by Inc.com (Read more)
Virgin Group has now branched out into a lot of sectors in business including mobile and telephone, travel, music, health and wellness, etc. As founder of Virgin, Branson takes time to talk to the staff of the company personally perhaps to ask questions regarding their company experiences. Quite unconventional for a face and name the whole world recognizes and looks up to.
Vineet Nayar agrees to Branson. He wrote a book entitled Employees First, Customers Second to share his belief in managing a business. Nayar believes that in putting employees first, the company will be able to deliver better customer service that would ultimately affect the growth and sales of the business
I think the customers win, the question is any company that says “customer first” does not know how to deliver that promise. All I am saying is by employees first you can actually deliver your promise of customers first. If you do not put the employee first – if the business of management and managers is not to put employee first – there is no way you can get the customer first.
~Vineet Nayar, Interview by Karl Moore from Forbes.com (Read more)
Angela Ahdrendts back in 2012 during Fortune Most Powerful Women event in London, also said:
Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.
~Angela Ahdrendts, Former CEO of Burberry
Back when Ahdrendts was still the CEO of Burberry, a British signature label, she was able to revive sales that have been struggling for quite a time already.
Better employees for bigger business
As Branson sees it, the formula is very simple: Happy employees equal happy customers. Similarly, an unhappy employee can ruin the brand experience for not just one, but numerous customers.
A pleasing barista can change the mood in an entire coffee shop making customers come back from day to day. Just like any company, a happy and satisfied employee who can gratify customers will increase sales to meet company objective in the future. That’s why hiring and training employees is a fundamental step that can lead to a successful business.
It is not the matter of putting your employees needs first and neglecting the needs and requests of your customers. The idea is that equipping, training and attending to the needs of the employees will make them feel how the company values and respects them. In return, they will also value and respect every customer they encounter. It will all lead to happy and loyal customers that is the key to a bigger business.
Having loyal and satisfied customers is like the best marketing strategy there is. Marketing and advertising classes in universities teach that word of mouth is the oldest yet still the most effective form of advertising. Quite true because no customer, even how loyal they could be will choose to avail a terrible service.