Employees are Customers Too: Some Cautionary Tales


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In striving to create a transcendent customer experience, why do the feelings and humanity of your employees matter so much? Why do lists of The Best Places to Work and The Best Places to Shop have such an enormous overlap?

In a nutshell, the feelings and humanity of your employees matter because:

• They affect how your employees treat customers.

• They affect how customers feel about your company

…for example, when you’re high-touch like Hyatt: Consider the uproar, including boycott calls[i] and the passing of new legislation[ii] that occurred after the three Hyatt hotels in Boston fired their entire housekeeping staffs without notice, replacing them with outsourced temps lacking benefits or direct accountability

…or when you’re high-tech like Amazon.com, a company praised often in my writings and previously viewed by many customers as wholly benign, that suffered a change in public perception after investigative reporting[iii] revealed that more than a dozen workers in Amazon’s Allegheny County, PA, warehouse suffered hospitalization-inducing heat exposure in a warehouse with a heat index of up to 114 degrees in the summer of 2011. (Amazon.com responded to the heat and suffering by offering the workers “cooling bandanas,” “5 minute additional breaks,” “fruit in the breakroom,” and “work hardening training.”)[iv]

Employees are customers too. They know customers, they blog tocustomers, they’re married to customers. It’s a highly transparent world. You need to work with your employees, and for your employees, because they’re who will create the ultimate customer perspective, whether bad, indifferent, or transcendent.

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[i]. Hyatts Face Protests After Layoffs in Boston Area,” New York Times, Also see: “Governor Threatens a Hyatt Boycott,” Boston Globe, ,”Hundreds attend rally for fired Hyatt housekeepers—Politicians urge boycott of the hotel,” Boston Globe, and the “Hyatt 100” site: http://www.hotelworkersrising.org/hyatt100/_.

[ii]. Sarah J.F. Braley, “Cambridge, Mass., Bans Hotels from Outsourcing Housekeepers,” Meetings and Conventions, October 26, 2011, http://www.meetings-conventions.com/articles/cambridge-mass-bans-hotels-from-outsourcing-housekeepers/c44318.aspx.

[iii]. Spencer Soper, The Morning Call, September 27, 2011, Page A1, http://articles.mcall.com/2011-09-17/news/mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917_1_warehouse-workers-heat-stress-brutal-heat,

[iv]. Amazon.com letter to OSHA: http://www.scribd.com/doc/65227130/Amazon-Letter-to-OSHA.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Micah Solomon
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant and trainer who works with companies to transform their level of customer service and customer experience. The author of five books, his expertise has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, NBC and ABC television programming, and elsewhere. "Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology." –Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder.


  1. Micah –

    Companies are just beginning to fully comprehend the positive and negative impact employees can have on customer behavior. Very often, how companies treat employees, and make them a living part of the customer experience, is almost a direct reflection of how they treat customers (and other stakeholder groups, for that matter), as I described in an artlcle last month for CustomerThink: http://www.customerthink.com/article/linking_employee_behavior_to_customer_loyalty_advocacy

    Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC
    Executive Vice President
    Market Probe


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