The Customer is Always First

Posted on 01/27/2015 in Customer Service & Support

"The Customer is Always First.” This mantra was spotted recently on one of our client’s training room posters. The poster highlighted the Guiding Principles of Sales and Service for this particular company, one of which stood out:  "The customer is always first." 
There was a time when the saying "The customer is always right” was a popular mantra, but that seemed to run its course. The customer may not always be right, but should always be the first consideration in everything a company does.  We often talk in STAR workshops about the principle that "The right customer is always right.” This is a principle that addresses the importance of prioritization in order to focus efforts on best sales opportunities, key accounts, and not getting bogged down in the low hanging fruit.
Whatever the saying, let’s just say that it is important for the success of each and every company to have a guiding customer service principle.  It should be obvious that the reason that the company exists (and the reason each employee has his or her job) is to provide a product or service to the customer. If the customers stop buying, the company (and the job) ceases to exist. Is this principle obvious at your company? Do you have a company-wide customer service principle?
The customer is always first means that the customer experience is paramount to everything everyone does.  All personnel need to be on board from the President to the product design team, from the website designers to the technical service reps, and most obviously from the sales team to the customer service representatives.

Some easy policies to adopt right now that will make the customer first:
  • As soon as a customer contacts you (in person, phone, email, etc.), it becomes your first priority.  
  • When planning your day/week/month, reserve time first for contacting customers. 
  • When speaking with a customer, listen attentively and ask questions because the customer's needs, expectations, issues, feelings are the first thing that you need to identify.
Two reports highlighting significant research on customer service provide additional in-depth insight:
  • The Customer Experience Journey (Forrester Research) This report refers to a "blueprint for customer experience excellence” that recommends developing a "customer-centric DNA.”  The report suggests that companies need to "treat customer experience as a competence not a function” requiring buy-in from everyone.
  • 2011 Customer Service Impact Report (Oracle)  This customer service survey cites that 86% of consumers claim they will pay more for a better experience.  Another interesting data point cited claims that 89% of consumers said they began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.   
Visit STAR’s Customer Service Blogs for more reading on this topic.