Who is your customer? While some companies appreciate that the customer is the person who walks in and buys something, that’s not the only customer you have. I’ve seen plenty of businesses assume that the person making the purchases is their only customer but, actually, you have several customers and they’re all very important to your success.
Clearly offering terrific service to the individuals who make purchases from your business is a big factor in your success. You will incur lower marketing costs and have much greater success if your existing customers are such advocates of what you do or sell that they rave about you to others.
But there are other customers that some owners don’t think about. For example, the team that make up your business really are customers in a sense also. I know of a few businesses where the owner actually goes out and lectures on customer service yet treats their team at home like dirt. It’s easy to imagine what the employees say about the boss when they’re not around which completely negates their lectures.
Your team are also your customers. Just like those people who pay you, the ones you pay also have a fan base of friends and family. If they love the conditions you’ve created at your place of business, they’re going to go home and rave about work. That will make their friends and family gain a lot of respect for how you run your business and will make it more likely that those friends and family bring their business to you.
Conversely I know of more than a few business owners whose team regularly complain about the conditions they work in, the lack of respect and consideration for their concerns.
Very recently I know of a team member of a business where that team member had a child that needed to be at school at a specific time. If the team member dropped their child off on time, they would be about 12 minutes late to work. But the team leader wouldn’t hear of this. That team leader wanted everybody there at the same time.
I could see if this were a factory where the line had to start at a specific time, but it wasn’t. There was literally no disadvantage to the employer of this team member being late, and they made up for it by taking shorter lunches.
A happy team that has reasonable rules to live by is going to do a better job and be part of making the customer’s experience a better one, which means that you will have less of a hurdle in convincing those customers to come back and tell their friends and family how much they enjoy working with your business.
Ridiculous rules that are just in place for no real reason are part of creating a working environment where the team is not happy. However good structure and logical rules and demands do make for a better work force. It’s easier to hit a target you know about so structure is important.
That’s also true of speaking unkindly about team members to others. Remember that humans have this love of sharing other people’s secrets. For example, look at how many businesses thrive on celebrity gossip, showing you pictures of products just a few days before they come out or giving you some ‘inside secret.’
Talking poorly about a team member to others not only gets back to the team member, but makes the others wonder what you’re saying about them when they’re not in the room.
In the case of the team where the member showed-up late because of the child, the ultimate result was that the team member quit. The organization they worked for already had a shortage of team members so their quitting meant that that organization’s other team members now have to work harder in an already-negative environment so now others are mumbling about leaving. And the word is out on how this operation treats people, so the pool of available people is significantly smaller because of these conditions.
The person who replaces this team member is going to have to be paid more just to tolerate this environment, so treating your team poorly also ultimately costs you more. You either might have to pay people more to work with you, or you’re going to have high turnover which is both expensive and also creates a frustrating experience for your customers when so many team members are new and not able to handle their businesses like an expert.
Next week I’m going to continue on this subject because there are other people in business who would do well to understand all of the people who are their customers. The lesson of this week is that everybody should be treated like your best customer - even when they work on your side of the counter.