Employees Or Customers?

Employees or Customers? by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

It was a short getaway at a world-class resort, the Shangri-La. If you’ve stayed at one, you know what I mean. Over-the-top service. With a smile. An unbelievable focus on the customer and attention to detail. This weekend, we were blessed to be staying at a Shangri-La (the “Shang”) on Mactan Island (Cebu, Philippines). It was a mini-vacation to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. From the moment we arrived to the time we left, the service was amazing, appreciated, and consistent.

We dined in three different restaurants on the premises, went into one of the shops, had an incredibly afternoon at the spa, swam in one of the many pools, strolled along the beach, played ping-pong on the grounds, had drinks delivered to our pool lounges, etc. … Everywhere we walked or turned, people were friendly, checking to see if we needed anything, smiling, and offering their service to make our stay more enjoyable.

The cynic might say the service at the Shangri-La is incredible because of the prices you pay. The Shang is not inexpensive. I have a different point of view. I believe that people go to the Shangri-La and are willing to pay “high” prices, in part, BECAUSE of the service they receive. Trust me. There have been many times I paid a lot of money for something and didn’t enjoy great service. The employees at the Shangri-La demonstrate great service because it’s important to their customers. Shang employees are rewarded and recognized for great service to guests because customers matter. Repeat business matters. Reputation matters.

The oft asked question is: “Which is MORE important? Customers or employees? Customer satisfaction or employee satisfaction?” … If you’ve read a few of my articles, you know I’m a “both and” person, but on this one, I’m taking a stand. I’m going with EMPLOYEES.

Let me explain. I’m NOT saying that customers are not important (or customer satisfaction). What I am saying is that IF you want to have great customers (life-long customers), START with great employees. Hire well, train appropriately, and provide the right consequences for customer-focused behavior. The result will be loyal customers. Customers who return. Customers who give referrals. Customers who buy more.

If you look at companies with great reputations for delighting customers (Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, Cathay Pacific, Southwest Airlines, etc.), you’ll find that they have great employees providing world-class service to loyal, delighted, life-long customers.

In your quest for customer excellence, don’t forget your EMPLOYEES (associates, partners, or whatever you call ‘em)! They are the key.

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

3 thoughts on “Employees Or Customers?

  1. Employees or Customers?….which is which is more important than the other?…Employees are hired with a goal to provide quality service to customers. Likewise, a customer/s in return, brings income to the company. How you perceive the importance of an employee over a customer depends on your own view point

    • Dear Sylvia,
      Yes, I agree with you. Customers and employees are both critically important. Treating both with excellence is key.

      Thanks for your comment,

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