Who Gets Treated Better? Employees, Customers or Your Top 20% of Both?


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This was originally posted on Salesformics:

Who Gets Treated Better?

110131_BB_STARBUCKSLOGO.jpg.CROP.original-originalMicah Solomon recently wrote about Starbucks in Forbes.com. He shared a conversation he had with an employee in Seattle. The employee asked Micah,

“Do you think Starbucks takes better care of its employees, or of its customers?”

Micah didn’t have an answer for him. And, as it turned out, this was the point. The employee added,

“I’ve worked here a long time, and I’ve thought about it for a while. And I just don’t know. I think Starbucks cares about, and takes care of, both groups. I think it’s equal.”

This is truly an aspirational goal, “When its a toss up as to who is treated better?” But for the majority of companies, it comes down to prioritization. Where do you focus your time and resources first? Based on my research, here is the ideal progression:

purple green and golden goldfish1. Employees (Green)
2. Customers (Purple)
3. Top 20% of customers / employees (Gold)

Start With Employees

Take care of your employees first. You can’t have happy enthused customers without happy engaged employees. There is a great book by the CEO of HCL Technologies on this premise. It’s called, Employees First, Customers Second. Another one on culture is by the founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard called, Let My People Go Surfing. Your actions need to demonstrate your commitment to your employees. Case in point: ING Direct used to fire thousands of customers each month, especially when they abused employees or made unreasonable demands on them.

Then Customers

How can you do the little things to add value and make things easier for your customers? Here are some top B2B examples from companies such as FedEx, Disney and Wufoo:

And Top 20% Last

The last in the progression is your top customers and top employees. Twenty percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your profitability. I recently wrote about this on Switch & Shift in a post entitled, All Customers and Employees are Not Created Equal. These employees and customers are your vital few. The idea is that you don’t treat everyone the same, you treat everyone fairly.

employees first customer second top last

Imagine a round target like on an archery range. The outer ring is employees, the middle ring is customers and the bullseye is top customers / employees. Start on the outside and work your way into the center.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) Here is Howard Schultz talking about the Starbucks brand at the London Business Forum. Great quote in here, “You can’t exceed the expectations of your customer as an enterprise… unless you exceed the expectations of your employees first.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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