So how genuine, are you really about ‘Customer First’?

Is it Customer First or Employee First?

These are questions that probably bother and confuse us.

In this piece, let’s talk about customer first. If one is truly serious about it, is it just about developing customer insights, surveys, research, customer value mapping and so on? Or is there something more?

Have you asked yourselves, “Does this activity benefit our customers? And if not, can you stop doing it?” At times, this calls for ‘Sacrificing’ something that you would have earlier ‘valued’ or perhaps something that is actually making money for the company.

But if you don’t feel like you can make every sacrifice required yet, then let’s not talk about ‘Customer First’. Let’s not talk about treating our employees with maturity, dignity and honesty, when they can see quite clearly, that you are not serious about placing Customers First. What’s worse is that leaders would be viewed as hypocritical. The Corporate Values, displayed prominently in fancy frames, become meaningless.

So are there companies that actually sacrifice profitability (and thereby, forfeit profits) at the cost of being true to their principle or motto of ‘Customer First’. Are there companies who truly ‘live their values’?

Here’s an example from my own experience:

Over these last few weeks, most companies have struggled to cope with COVID-19 pandemic related pressures, and e-commerce companies have just about begun operations. I placed an order with Amazon. Everything went well and my order got confirmed. But, a few days later, I received a call from Amazon to apologize that they cannot deliver the order and that the item ordered was unavailable and restocking was not expected in the near future.

My expectation was that they would simply apologize for the inconvenience, offer the refund, and close the transaction.

However, this was different. This caller, obviously an employee of Amazon:

  1. Was empowered to take a decision
  2. Had a basis for what he went on to offer i.e. there was a process and a policy in place
  3. Had a well-understood procedure to follow.

The employee informed me that since it was their error, for which they are very apologetic, they would now send a replacement of a similar product. This product was being sent for the price of the original product, when it was actually Rs 2500 (around US$ 33) more expensive than the originally one. “Good service recovery”, I thought.

This was a big sacrifice which was made to keep a loyal customer (me), truly loyal.

To be honest, had they simply apologized and refunded the money, I would have been a bit disappointed, but given my past experiences with Amazon, I would have continued to place my orders and shown my Loyalty towards them. As a customer, I would have ‘sacrificed’ and perhaps overlooked the inconvenience, given that I am loyal to the Amazon Brand and Organization.

I am sure we all have had similar experiences and stories to share.

What is your view? Customer First or Employee First?

President and Lead L&S Custodian

the L&S platform

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