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Before You Can Be Customer Or Employee-Centric, Be Human-Centric

In an article published on LinkedIn, Shep Hyken makes a good argument that before you can be a Customer-Centric organization, you must first be Employee-Centric.

He presents the question, “…which comes first, customer centricity or employee centricity? I believe you first choose to be customer centric, but must first execute on the inside of your company and be employee centric.”

But I think Hyken could go one level deeper. See, this is still all thinking about the company, the processes, the mechanisms, the moving parts, the product. But it isn’t quite thinking about what made it all possible and what made them get into the industry in the first place.

Thus, I would argue that, to improve customer service, you can’t be either Customer or Employee-Centric until you’re human-centric and you’ve got the humanity of everyone you work with in full view.

Excellent Customer Service Comes From Focus On The Humanity Of Everyone Involved

We’ve talked before about putting the human first. We called it the human element, and it’s still as true as ever.

Hyken’s article mentions the story of Jan Carlzon, CEO of Scandinavian Airlines, who took the decidedly company-focused pyramid structure of CEO on top, upper management below, middle management next, and then customer-facing at the bottom above the customer, and he put the customer at the top.

He put the traditional pyramid on its head because he believed, and rightfully so, that the true bosses for any company were the customers.

They are the ones who make the ultimate decision to support the company’s endeavors and product(s) with their monetary purchase. If it weren’t for the customer, you would have no company.

And, while they aren’t making every decision on how to run your business, what products to offer, what services to provide, and more, they are certainly contributing to the overall vision with their feedback and their dollars.

So it only makes sense to keep them at the forefront of everything that you do.

Customer service improved immensely, customer satisfaction went through the roof, and employees were happier than ever.

Soylent customer is people

But to really make this happen, we need to take it a step further.

Let’s change this from a “I have to put the customer first” not even to a “the customer is always right,” but straight to a “we want to offer the best product/service that will help real people.”

That’s the kind of proposition you should be working for every day you step into the office or each time your out on the job site.

Because we’re all humans.

And, you know what? We always work better when we help each other to be better.

When you’re human-centric, you’ll naturally want to help your employees excel, and you’ll pass your human-centricity onto them who will, in turn, treat the customers right and help them to excel.

It’s all one big chain of events that happens with one person: you. And me. And him. And her.

Really, everyone as one, building from the right vision, creating products for the right reasons, and offering services for the best results.

I get it, you’re not running a charity organization (unless, of course, you are). But this is all about your bottom line.

See, good customer service isn’t about doing what you have to in order to make the customer happy. It’s about being human-centric.

Because when you’re human-centric, you’ll find that all the other pieces just fall into place. It’s the catalyst that inspires greatness in your employees which provides greatness to your customers.

Just like Hyken’s example of Southwest Airlines putting the employee first. They do it because they care about each person that works for them, and that kind of focus has privileged them to become one of the most successful airlines around.


In everything that you do, in every decision that you make, keep your eye on the humanity involved.

Take care of the people that look to you for a paycheck, or that are waiting for their roof to be fixed.

If you build a human-centric organization, you’ll find that it’ll grow a life of its own.

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