I’m just going to say it: The pendulum has swung too far. We have to stop catering to our staff.  Employee-centric policies and behaviors are driving customers to your competitors. As competition for the best and the brightest employees has grown over the years, so too has the tendency to cater to our staff — at the expense of our customers. Managers are so afraid of losing a staff member that they are careful not to ask too much of them or quickly take their side in the event of a unhappy customer. But the victim of these policies that seek to make life easier for our staff, is too-often our customers themselves — and they pay the bills.
When a server says: “Sorry, we don’t allow substitutions.”  Whatthey are really saying is: “I know you are trying to give us your money, but that would require us to do some math, or the cook would have to think about where that might go on the plate, or we’d have to break our routine…” 
Or are you trying to steer customers to do business with you, the way YOU want them to do it, because that would be easier for you? So you intentionally don’t put your phone number on your website, because you want prospects to fill out the contact form instead. “But the phone will just ring all day if we put the phone number on there,” you say. What?? God forbid you would have to take calls from your actual customers. Sorry that you are being inconvenienced by your customers. Fail!
It’s not that the customer is always right, but provided they are being reasonable, they are always more important than your employees. And if the issue is extra work on the part of your team, then do the extra work! Ok? So business is hard. Competitors would love to take that burden off your hands.
Your day care center, or dance academy or Tae Kwon Do studio is littered with signs scolding parents: “No talking to kids during class.” “No food or drink in the waiting area.” “Parents who are more than 10 minutes late picking up their children will be fined $35.”  All policies created and communicated to make life better for their staff, but serve to make the parents feel unwelcome. Dumb.
When the metal gate at the mall retail store is closed halfway down 30 minutes before closing; When the chairs are being put up around you in the restaurant, the employees are saying loud and clear: “Don’t come in here. Go away. We want to go home. Your money is less important than our plans for later.”  Why would you allow your staff to behave like this?
When a horrible, publicly-shared video of a paying customer being assaulted and dragged off one of your planes is shared by millions, and your first reaction is to write a letter to support your team and tell them they did nothing wrong, your priorities are misplaced.
To be clear, our employees are crucial. We must treat them well, be fair and clear in our expectations. But the greatest thing we can do to ensure employment for our staff is to ensure that our customers and clients are thrilled with us, feel welcome, valued and catered to.
Customer experience is more than merely creating “wow” moments. It’s fixing everything that your customers see, experience or interact with to ensure that it is crafted and delivered with THEM in mind. Winning  in business today comes from ensuring that your customers don’t feel like their needs are secondary to anyone.

David Avrin, CSP is a popular marketing and customer experience keynote speaker, consultant and business author. He is the author of the celebrated business book: It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You! (Classified Press) and his latest: Visibility Marketing (Career Press) is available worldwide. Learn more and watch a preview at www.VisibilityInternational.com

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