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June 28, 2007

Should we put employees first, and clients and customers second?

WAC? may soon stop degrading and humiliating the summer help.

See "Put Your Employees First and Your Customers Second" at Jay Shepherd's fine blog, Gruntled Employees. Jay is right. Employees, through "emotional contagion," do color customer feelings. Job satisfaction is communicated to customers. I talk about this a bit in Rule 11 of WAC?'s 12 Rules of Client Service: Treat Each Co-Worker Like He or She Is Your Best Client .

When I wrote Rule 11, I mentioned that in practice treating employees as well as clients is difficult for me personally. To be honest, I've found that most employees don't understand client service, don't understand lawyering, and don't even get the concept of work and its simple joys. Although I am positive and optimistic by nature, I am very cynical about the white collar work force--in America and abroad. This, of course, is my failure alone. But am 100% certain that employees don't perform better or worse if you are "nice" to them. Good and happy employees map out their own job satisfaction. The issue for my firm is simple: how do you find these people?

But let's get back to Jay's post and into the sunshine. His more "pro-employee" post--and an article by two profs at England's Manchester

Business School he cites--even goes one step further. It says that companies grow and do well if employee satisfaction exceeds customer satisfaction.

Bottom line for managers and HR: employee satisfaction can actually be used as a metric to provide a leading indicator for company growth. Maybe that will get the boardroom's attention.

Amazing notion, and I am thinking about it. In the meantime, WAC? would add: make sure you've got the right employees. Sorry, but there just aren't that many great workers at any level out there--and most employees certainly will never get or care about client and customer service. Before candidates get to or have even heard of your shop, they either care or don't care about customers and clients. You can't teach, force or even bribe people to do it. Client service is an instinct--one that mixes pride in work with deep needs to communicate and serve. Find, hire and keep the naturals.

Posted by JD Hull at June 28, 2007 03:08 PM

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