Tag Archives: employee development

The customer comes second – sort of.

Organizations often try to claim they’re “different” as a convenient excuse for dismissing new ways of doing things. It’s the old, familiar “That won’t work here because …” syndrome. True, every organization is distinct to some extent. Still, virtually all organizations have some basic things in common, and those commonalities make a compelling case for the importance of aligning employee engagement with marketing communication.

For starters, they all want to be successful.
No dispute there. They also all have customers. Call them consumers or taxpayers, students or patients, passengers or clients, patrons or donors … or whatever you want. In the end, their satisfaction largely dictates an organization’s destiny.

All organizations also have employees.Call them associates or co-workers or partners or colleagues … or whatever you want. In the end, their sense of trust and happiness in the workplace determines how they relate to customers – and how satisfied those customers will be.

Connect the dots, and the picture is clear.
Making employee well-being a top strategic priority is more than a nice thing to do. It’s just good business. That’s the central theme of a highly touted book that came out several years ago entitled The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch ‘Em Kick Butt.

The principal author is Hal Rosenbluth, the fourth-generation head of Rosenbluth International, a family-owned corporate travel agency that grew in annual revenues from $20 million to more than $6 billion in a span of 25 years under his leadership. When he joined the business right out of college, he noticed that they put a lot of emphasis on making customers happy, but virtually none on the employees who served them. That didn’t make sense to Rosenbluth, and the disconnect showed on the unhappy faces and performance of disgruntled employees. So he set out to shift the company’s focus first and foremost on the attraction, retention and development of outstanding people.

Realizing that’s counterintuitive for many organizations, Rosenbluth explains, “Companies are only fooling themselves when they believe that ‘The Customer Comes First’ … Only when people know what it feels like to be first in someone else’s eyes can they sincerely share that feeling with others. 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.” With industry-leading customer satisfaction rates of over 99%, how can you argue with him?

A Secret Weapon
Rosenbluth is also emphatic about employee development being a vital part of the success formula. While attracting good people, listening to their ideas and treating them respectfully are important, that’s only part of the equation. “Perpetual training is a secret weapon, because the growth of a company is really just the aggregate of the growth of its people.” What’s more, he says, “Broad-based programs that are philosophical in nature are as important as technical training.”

It all adds up to a simple yet significant phrase from the book, which serves as a poetic and memorable motto: “People who feel cared for will care more.”

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