That old adage, ‘the customer is king’ is perhaps one of the most misapplied phrases in business.
Most business owners and managers place the highest price tag on the customer and treat employees as a necessary evil. Yet, if indeed the customer is king, then the employee is the king maker.
What distinguishes one business from the others in the same market sector in terms of branding, profitability and public perception is actually the employees. It is hardly the business owners who probably have limited contact and interaction with the customers.
Thus, employees are as important as the customer, if not more in the attainment of business objectives.
At all times employees should be viewed as important partners and allies rather than necessary evil players whose interest is monthly pay.
One phrase that is gaining currency in the market place today is customer experience as a competitive advantage. Customer experience is the sustenance of a business, not an indulgence.
Basically, customer experience is the impression that you leave with your customer influencing how they think of your brand across every stage of interaction, right from the first encounter to the after-sales contacts. This means there are multiple touch points that constitute customer experience.
The two key touch points that create customer experience are people and product. A customer may be excited by the product and the way it solves their problem but that is not enough. They also must be delighted by the superb attention given by the employee handling them.
Peter Drucker, a renowned management consultant, recognizes the centrality of the customer in any enterprise. He notes that, “because it is the purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation.”
To achieve those two basic functions the entrepreneur requires the cooperation of employees.
In fact, most firms today are struggling in the market due to lack of dedicated employees to help the business owner and managers give customers an unforgettable experience.
What makes customers feel satisfied and eager to come back and tell others about their experience with a company, mostly is not the product, but the employee interaction.
With advancement in technology, it is possible to find the same high-quality product in many places. Quality is not an issue in most industries. The sole defining factor is how the service is rendered by the employees. This underscores the importance of employees.
Therefore, as you pursue customer experience as a competitive experience, you must simultaneously pursue employee experience. In practice, you cannot have one and not the other. Generally happy employees will treat customers well. It is almost impossible for customers to go away smiling when employees are sad.
Enterprises that focus on making employees happy, motivated and eager to go to work every morning do not have to worry so much about customer experience. Investing in your employees is investing in your customers.
This article was first published in The Business Daily on June 18, 2019.