Customer Service – Start with the End in Mind


Share on LinkedIn

Become Customer Focused

I recently posted one of my articles in a great online publication, Customer Think, one of the top repositories for customer service articles on the Net. Bob Thompson, the editor in chief at Customer Think, and Michael Lowenstein, a fellow author, and I embarked in some interesting dialogue around the article, which was about being employee-focused before you are customer-focused.

If you have been following my articles and social media posts, you know that I believe that before you can become customer-focused, you must be employee-focused. Customer service starts with employees of an organization. And, that means all employees. From leadership to the most recently hired to the entry level positions. To become customer-focused you must practice internally what you want the customer to experience externally. All employees must treat each other, the way the customer should be treated. That is where it starts.

Well, Bob Thompson seemed to disagree. He believes you become customer-focused first. He had some very valid comments, and I think the concept is up for interpretation. Yes, there are companies that have both great customer service and also an incredible employee experience that have failed. The reason is that it also takes a great product, which is a very customer-focused concept. After all, without a product that customers are willing to buy, you won’t have a business regardless of how good the customer service is. Bob referenced the era where employees were in the most incredible, almost lavish, work environments, but in the end some of the companies still failed. In most cases it wasn’t because of the lack of customer or employee focus. It was because the product didn’t make enough money for the company.

Here is the bottom line. There is proof that top customer service companies are also employee focused. Look at the surveys that indicate the best companies to work for and you’ll find many of those companies on the lists that provide the best customer service. Yet, Bob Thompson’s point is valid and here’s my spin on it:

Yes, you must first decide to be customer-focused. The decision becomes your goal. The decision does not guarantee your outcome. And to achieve this outcome, you must create a process, which is put into place by the leadership of the organization. And while part of the process is about having the right systems and procedures in place, you still need people to act upon it. The right people must be hired, trained and empowered to support the vision of what the customer experience should be. And this vision, or outcome, will never happen unless the employees support it.

So, you start with the end in mind. And, begin with first focusing on your employees.

ALMOST HERE! Less than two weeks. Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools to Create the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet will be released on September 3. But you don’t have to wait! There is still time to pre-order the book and get an immediate download of the book and a number of other bonuses. You can start to deliver amazing service today! Go to

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


  1. ….the world will beat a path to your door. That statement says a lot about customer value. For me, it means that the product or service must have very definite perceived personal value. Along with this, I have to trust the organization providing the product or service to act in my best interest, and central to value delivery and my individual needs is the company’s employees – all employees, not just those on the front line. In a series of articles on the future of direct marketing, my colleague Heather Fletcher, who is Senior Editor of Target Marketing, said this with a great deal of skill and accuracy: "…consumers aren't thinking about you at all – ever. They're looking for themselves in you, if they notice you at all. How do you make them look? How do you make them feel? Which of their problems do you solve? What does spending time and money with you get them? Noticed? Affirmed? Appreciated?”

    Inherent in all this is the necessity that employees be ambassadors for both building the relationship with customers and delivering and sustaining that value. Echoing Bob Thompson’s point, the value proposition has to be there, of course; but, whenever this chicken/egg issue is raised, I find myself going back to the guidance of Hal Rosenbluth and Diane McFerrin Peters in their epic book on the subject, The Customer Comes Second, originally published over 20 years ago: “If we put our people first, they’ll put our clients first. We’re not saying choose your people over your customers. We’re saying focus on your people because of your customers. That way everybody wins.”

  2. I think the quote from this book sums it up perfectly.

    “If we put our people first, they’ll put our clients first. We’re not saying choose your people over your customers. We’re saying focus on your people because of your customers. That way everybody wins.”

    BANG! Spot on!

  3. 1. Obsess Over Customers
    2. Invent for Customers
    3. Think Long Term

    Source: Jeff Bezos of Amazon: 3 Things That I’ve Learned So Far

    Although he doesn’t mention putting employees first, he still earns an 87% approval rating and 2/3 of employees would recommend to a friend (Glassdoor).

    Shall we now have dueling quotes about who comes first, employees or customers? 🙂 I’m ready!


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here