Employees Are Your Most Important Customers

I recently read “The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win” by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen. The premise of the book is that companies are starting to (and should be) focused on the social aspect of their business rather than just selling more products.  The social aspect includes doing good for your community as well as the environment.  Throughout the book, case studies are given on companies such as Seventh Generation, Threadless.com, Southwest Airlines and Marks & Spencer to name a few. 

I found the book very interesting and it made me realize how important it is for companies (of all sizes) to be good to its employees, customers, community and environment.  So often companies are too worried about their bottom line.  Although it’s absolutely understandable, especially when you’re a public company and Wall Street is breathing down your neck, it’s still our responsibility to be good to all.

My favorite (and most relevant based on my customer reference and loyalty background) part of the book was chapter three which is called “Not a Company, but a Community – a Blueprint for Summoning People’s Potential”.  Former Southwest Airlines chairman Herb Kelleher is quoted saying “When you treat [your employees] right, they will treat your customers right. This has been a powerful competitive weapon for us.”  How powerful and true of a quote is that?!  If you have happy employees, it’ll be passed on to your customers.  Happy customers also lead to repeat business and increased referrals which then leads to increased profits and a reduced amount of spending on gaining new customers. 

Another section of the chapter refers to a 2008 Towers Perrin study which stated “71 percent of the respondents said they were ‘disengaged’ or ‘disenchanted’ at work.  The study reported that employees ‘care a lot about their work’ and they want to ‘learn and grow.'”  Eye opening huh?  What if we actually treated employees like our customers?  Not a bad idea.