I think it’s funny when we are given advice
to always put the customer first.
That means employees come second inherently
if you’re going to put customer first.
Customers come and go.
Obviously we want to work to keep them loyal
but its employees who spend more time at work
than they do with their families.
It’s employees who are asking to give their
blood and sweat and tears to advance our vision.
And so it’s a leader’s responsibility
to take care of the people first and the people
will take care of each other and the customer.
Any leader who prioritizes a customer literally
saying I care more about an external constituency
than I do about the people who are actually
The funny thing is a company like Southwest
Airlines, a company like Costco that are renowned
for their customer service as matters of policy
do not believe the customer is always right.
They do not believe that the customer comes
The irony is is these great customer service
companies actually care first about their
own people, their employees and they expect
their employees to care about their customers.
Let me tell you a story, a true story.
Some months ago I stayed at the Four Seasons
in Las Vegas.
It is a wonderful hotel and the reason it’s
a wonderful hotel is not because of the fancy
Any hotel can buy a fancy bed.
It’s because of the people who work there.
Now when you walk the halls of the Four Seasons
and someone says hello to you, you really
get the sense that they wanted to say hello,
not that they were told to say hello.
So in the lobby of the Four Seasons they have
a coffee bar and one afternoon I went to buy
a cup of coffee and I happened to be served
by a barista named Noah.
Noah was wonderful.
He was fantastic.
He was friendly.
He was funny.
He was engaging.
I think I ended up giving a 100 percent tip.
And so as is my way I asked Noah do you like
your job here?
And Noah said I love my job here.
So I followed up and said what is it that
the Four Seasons is doing that would make
you say to me I love my job?
And without skipping a beat he said throughout
the day managers will walk past me and ask
me how I’m doing.
They’ll ask me if I need anything to do
my job any better.
He said not just my manager, any manager.
And then he said something magical.
He said I also work at Caesar’s Palace and
there the managers walk past and make sure
we’re doing everything right.
They catch is if we’re doing anything wrong.
There I just try to get through the day.
I keep my head below the radar and I just
want to cash my paycheck.
And the customer will have a different experience
not because of Noah.
Noah is a good guy.
The customer will have a different experience
because of how the management regards Noah.
Does management believe Noah is the number
one priority or does management believe that
the customer is the number one priority?
And again the irony is is it’s the organization
that believes that Noah is more important
that then Noah is better capable of taking
care of the customer.
It is a linear process and I think so many
people in business forget that.
Yes, of course ultimately you want the customer
to be happy.
But the methodology is actually to prioritize
the wellbeing of our people.
I think the wrong thinking about customers
comes from the fact that we look at results
more than we look at process.
Results are much easier to measure and so
we talk about profit first.
That’s because it’s easy to measure.
We talk about, we prioritize literally money
over trust because how do you measure trust?
It’s more difficult.
The same with customer service.
The result would be great customer service
but the process is the long, hard work of
building a strong culture in which the people
take care of each other so that they can take
care of the customer.
That, it’s more ethereal and harder to measure.
I can measure customer loyalty, customer service
and sales and return business and things like
So I think it’s human nature to go to the
thing that we can easily see and easily count.
And in the case of customer service that would
be the end product, not the process that got