Rolling Out The Red Carpet For Your Employees… Before Your Customers

We’ve all heard it before and have probably used the phrase ourselves. We say, “Let’s roll out the red carpet for our customers.” It’s not a bad idea, but did you ever think of rolling out the red carpet for your employees first—before rolling it out for your customers?

That’s exactly what Donna Cutting, CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, shares in her latest book Employees First!: Inspire, Engage, and Focus on the Heart of Your Organization. Cutting makes the argument that your employees deserve the same, if not an even better experience, than you give your customers.

We had a chance to talk about the concept of employees first on Amazing Business Radio. Here are six nuggets of wisdom from the conversation, followed by my commentary:

1. Think about how you want employees to treat customers, then flip it and ask, “Are we treating our own people that way?” This is what Cutting’s book is all about, and it reminds me of my Employee Golden Rule, which is to do unto your employees as you want done unto the customer—maybe even better! And why would you want to do that? Because what’s happening on the inside of an organization (how employees are treated) is going to be felt on the outside by the customer.

2. Start with the experience you create for your employees. This is where it begins—how you support your employees to grow their skills and improve their knowledge. Equipping employees with the information they need to care for customers builds their confidence. And when you let them deliver on these skills and knowledge, you’ve empowered them to create the experience they know is the one you want your customers to have.

3. If you want your people to stick around, you have to make them feel appreciated. Many people think the No. 1 reason employees leave their jobs is because of money (actually lack of money). But that’s not the case. It’s the employee experience (actually lack of employee experience). Employees feel underappreciated and stuck in their jobs. Leaders must display understanding and empathy, nurture and coach them, and help them grow and develop.

4. If every person in a leadership position would make it a point to get to know their employees better, that is a huge step in keeping people and keeping them loyal. A connection with the boss can make all the difference in the world. The loyalty employees show the person they love working with is akin to customers loving the company they do business with.

5. Listen to your people in a way that you never have before. Just as you would listen to your customers, do the same with employees. Hear what they are saying about your processes and about the way they are treated. They have plenty to share, if you just ask them.

6. Model what excellent customer service looks like. You can’t expect your employees to treat the customers any differently than the way you treat them. They will emulate the same behaviors. Treating employees the right way will give them the confidence to know they are treating your customers the right way. After all, you are the leader, the role model and the person they look up to for the way to treat others.

Looking at these concepts, you might think there’s nothing new here. It’s just common sense. Of course it is! But sometimes common sense is not so common. At a time when many employees are leaving their jobs for better opportunities, following these commonsense concepts may be the best way to keep the good people you have. So, roll out the red carpet for your employees before you do so for your customers. Cutting sums it up perfectly when she says, “Focus on employees first. Their experience is the foundation of what will happen to your customers.”

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