Does your organization create customer value or simply shift it away from your employees?
If the happiness of your customers comes at the expense of that of your employees, you’re not creating value—you’re just shifting it.
Until an organization learns how to create value for one side of the relationship without eroding it on the other side, it will be caught in an uneasy balancing act that depends on the disadvantaged side not seeking a better situation. So how do you know whether you’re walking this tightrope?
Here’s a quick quiz to help you self-assess:
- Do you deliver value by regularly asking your team to work late, weekends, or to compromise their business principles?
- Are there more “urgent” customer requests than not?
- Is your team compensated similarly to those who support less demanding customers?
- Are people recognized more often for putting out fires than developing long-term sustainable solutions?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, value is likely being shifted away from your team. Which leads to a somewhat philosophical question…
Is a customer more valuable than the team supporting it?
Some customers require an unreasonable amount of support. You don’t lose customers like that—you shed them. They aren’t worth the internal value deficit they create, nor the environment that prioritizes politics over performance. I’d rather my competitor deal with that. When you account for the true cost of supporting them you very rarely come out ahead.
The answer is to focus on growing and landing customers who require less internal investment but yield similar total profit. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
The first step is to build an organization that enables value creation.
Support and reward employees who recognize their own worth and that of their colleagues. Give them the space and freedom to create true solutions instead of stopgaps and workarounds. I wouldn’t work for a company that was willing to routinely make my life worse to meet a customer’s base expectation. That’s a clear sign of a relationship problem. And there’s no support model, no amount of time, travel, effort, or personal sacrifice that can keep a team supporting a broken customer relationship out of constant “crisis mode.”
The solutions that talented, creative, empowered employees create ultimately attract better customers and foster healthier relationships that create value on both sides. All it requires is the courage to take the first step.