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Customers or Employees First?

I was going to write a long and reasoned argument about the merits of putting customers first and then of putting employees first before coming to my conclusion before I realised that the story is in the answer to the question, not the question itself…

And my answer, of course, is both! It’s a circular argument in which we have to balance the needs of our customers and employees to be successful. If our customers aren’t happy, they won’t come back and eventually we’ll have no business. If our employees aren’t happy, they won’t deliver a good service to our customers which won’t make customers happy. It really is that simple… isn’t it?

So why do people write whole books about putting the customer first or putting employees first? I recently read one such book and realised that it was saying all the same things I would but from, in this case, an employee-oriented, rather than a balanced perspective. What’s wrong with balancing the needs of our employees and customers, or customers and employees?

The outcome we want is that both are happy and that the organisation is able to align its employees with the needs of its customers to ensure it grows.