We’ve all heard it before: Customers come first. It’s one of the first lessons we learn when entering the workforce, and it’s the belief that drives almost every aspect of a company.
These days, customers have never held so much power. They can give us instant feedback on review sites and social media and they have ever-increasing expectations. Online shopping especially has evolved a culture that is strongly focused on personalisation and customer-centricity.
But what if we turned the mantra ‘customer first’ upside down?
Here are three good reasons why a company should consider ditching this old adage and make the switch to putting their employees first.
Companies need fresh ideas and innovation to stay ahead
Customers and clients have endless choices and their buying habits are always changing. To compete effectively, businesses need to draw on the knowledge and experience of every single person in your organization. Fresh, new ideas can help you innovate to stay ahead of your competition. After all, your employees should be customers (or users) of your product, too.
One way to do this is to put your employees first. Share your thoughts on the business, listen and learn from them and bring them into the decision-making process.
This has some immediate benefits: Firstly, you’re telling employees that you trust and value them and their opinions. You’re also allowing your employees to express their thoughts about how the business operates and its future direction, and you’re giving them the power to go out and change the way things are done.
If your employees are relentlessly focused on the customer, they’ll come up with some pretty creative ideas to make them happy. For example, here at Arnold Marketing, we use a client-facing dashboard that pulls directly from our project management software – this way, the client can see progress on tasks in real-time.
This was an employee idea and we’ve received great feedback on it!
Motivated employees will go the extra mile
The “Great Resignation” of 2021 proved it’s not always about the money. Studies show that 71% of employees would take a pay cut to secure their ideal job. Employees who feel that they are valued, supported and an integral part of growing the company tend to go to extraordinary lengths on behalf of the company they work for.
Companies where employees have a shared mission, values and purpose are much more likely to have higher rate customer satisfaction. We highly recommend checking out the book Scaling Up for more insight on setting and articulating these items.
A staff that’s highly engaged and has the power to enact change are able to provide exceptional personal service without being constrained by rigid rules regarding customer interactions. These employees know they are trusted by the company, and feel able to draw on their experience and skills to adapt to any customer situation. As a result, when companies put employees first, they’re actually improving levels of customer service and loyalty.
Recently, a client of ours was entering their busy season, and they didn’t get us the content we needed for their monthly newsletter in time. Instead of giving up and not putting out a newsletter, our Account Manager had the brilliant idea to do an employee highlight, introducing the two new hires they had just added to their small 5-person team.
The client was happy, the newsletter went out, and they didn’t need to scramble to get us content. Win-win!
Your talent is literally how your work gets done. Retaining the best talent is the key to success
When a company puts the needs and voices of their employees first, it helps to retain the best talent. According to Limeade Institute, 94% of employees who feel their jobs have meaning and feel cared for by their employer exude greater levels of loyalty. This is especially true when it comes to millennial workers.
An employee-first mentality doesn’t mean companies need to invest in gym memberships, free food and wellness programs– though these perks are always welcomed. Essentially, it means giving employees structured autonomy and power, as well as encouraging them to contribute to your mission, directions, and values.
At Arnold Marketing, instead of creating our core values in a locked room and then passing them down to employees, we asked employees to participate in brainstorming and naming our core values.
This meant that employees felt more ownership and pride in living and breathing these values – which directly leads to better work for our clients.
The “customer first” adage made sense five years ago, but not today. Businesses have to react proactively, be agile and flexible to stay ahead of the competition. Constant streams of fresh ideas are needed, and valued employees are the absolute best source for any company. Putting your employees first in a time of uncertainty and rapid change just makes sense, and should be the new normal.