Here’s a brief thought exercise. Would you hire this employee? If they were on your staff, would you retain them?
- Punches the clock exactly, and refuses overtime without significant compensation
- Does the absolute minimum work possible to not get fired
- Spends their free time outside of work promoting themselves relentlessly
- Spends half their time at work looking for their next job
- Goes to great lengths to impress strangers at networking events
- Yet, neglects you and key stakeholders at your company
I don’t know about you, but the shelf life of that employee would be fairly short on my watch. I asked a few folks on LinkedIn the same question, and here’s what they said:
Strong words from fellow business professionals:
- “In transition”
- “Wouldn’t hire or retain”
- “Held a key role hostage”
- “Part ways”
Clearly, this sort of employee is not someone we want to work with.
Yet, when we look at how companies treat customers, I see an uncomfortable (if unsurprising) parallel. In customer service and customer experience, we’re fond of expressions like “the customer is always right” and “the Customer is the boss”. If we truly believe these tenets, then consider how the average company behaves toward its “boss”:
- Does nothing more than what’s contracted to do and anything extra is an upsell, upcharge, additional fee, or new contract
- Provides the absolute minimum level of service possible
- Spends significant time and budget on marketing and advertising
- Even when dealing with us, is investing far more time and energy into new customers
- Goes to great lengths to win new customers, with incentives, deals, promotions, sales, and service
- Yet, neglects loyal customers by not offering the same deals and incentives
Is it any wonder that companies struggle with customer churn?
If the company above were our employee, we wouldn’t think twice about firing them. Yet as marketers and business people, why do we expect that our customers will remain loyal to us in the exact same situation? The customer as the boss has a terrible employee, and we’ve set ourselves up to be fired as quickly as possible.
The superior company and the superior employee would look very similar – and the opposite of the above cases:
- Does whatever it takes to retain the business within practical limits
- Goes the extra mile for the people most important to them
- Spends their free time figuring out how to make our experience better
- Invests time in us, ensuring our loyalty, rather than looking for the next great opportunity
- Does their part to win new business but…
- Recognizes that their existing relationship is paying the bills and works to figure out how to deliver an even better experience for us
I’d pay more to retain that kind of employee.
As a customer, I’d do business with that company as often as I could.
Ask yourself which kind of “company as employee” you are: the average one that we’d fire as quickly as we could, or the superior one we’d gladly pay more to retain? If the former, what must you do to become the latter?
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Also published on Medium.