Skip to Content

May 7, 2024

Culture Matters: Never Forget Your ‘First Customer’

Group of business professionals standing around a blue arrow, symbolizing teamwork and direction.

In the world of business, there is no shortage of clichés. As social media has grown, so has the popularity of one-liners and memes that portray the great things business leaders should do to maximize success. Images of the great Steve Jobs, Sir Richard Branson, or Dr. Martin Luther King are shared and adored on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other digital channels because their words – when pulled from context and placed onto a sharable image – seem to so concisely sum up everything a leader must do to be successful.

While these individual leaders, and so many others, did paint their brilliance on the world with their bodies of work, we all know that being great at what we do it isn’t as simple as quoting “The Art of War” or the best of Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” But there is something to that methodology: Sometimes focusing on just a few things is the key to achieving greater success.

The most forgotten component in the success of our companies is often the people who help us get work done. Sure, we cut checks every few weeks and maybe remember to say thank you, but we become busy dialing into the strategy and execution of our work, which can be extraordinarily time consuming. When time is limited, sometimes our ability to take notice of our team gets lost in the shuffle.

Our people – you know, the ones who show up every day, design our projects, order the equipment, install, sell, and often act as the first touchpoint for many of our clients – aren’t just our employees. They are our first customers. They are the key to our business culture, and often the most transparent reflection of what our company is like to work with.

The moment you walk through the door of a company with a negative culture, you can almost feel the life being sucked out of you – but when you call or visit a company with happy employees, you can’t help but feel the extra energy. It’s electric and contagious.

But companies don’t just “inherit” a positive or negative culture. Just like the way we sell to our customers or install our projects, culture is developed by design. It is a byproduct of the way we engage our employees and treat our people. When times are busy, companies with strong cultures don’t let employees get lost in the shuffle; in fact, this is when they are called upon to step up and become a greater part of the success.

Great companies don’t become great companies in a vacuum. It isn’t a single leader or a couple of key people who build multi-billion-dollar corporations. It takes many people who share a passion, vision, and dream of success to come together to achieve this result. Furthermore, culture is never complete. It is built based upon constant commitment to your people and your customers. It’s remembering what got you to where you are, and knowing it will take more of that commitment to get to where you want to go next. As the great Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

It’s about the people. It has to be. As a business leader, you cannot forget that truth – no matter how busy things are or how rough times become. While change is imminent, the way you focus on embracing your employees will always be reflected in the work your company does.

Employees know the difference between a good situation and a bad one, and they will undoubtedly reflect that in the work they do. It is both the employees and the customers who must be cared for; perhaps the best way to achieve this is to see them as one and the same. Employees are your customers – they are customer No. 1. The sooner that is visible in your business, the sooner the results of a stronger culture will follow.  —Dan Newman, Cofounder of V3*Broadsuite

Image by: sheelamohan

Share This Page