The Chicken or the Egg, Employee Retention or Customer Retention – Which Should Come First?

Since the first peddlers began selling goods across Europe in the 19th century, the general business wisdom has been:

The customer is always right.

Customers are the top priority and the key to success.

This philosophy is no longer applicable in today’s business environment. Customers, although incredibly important, must not be the only priority. They cannot be the only key to success. To succeed with your customers, you need to hunker down and show your team members that they are your most important priority, day in and day out.

Modern analytics have provided us with a new understanding of how to realize business success, and it can be stated succinctly:

Happy team members = happy customers.

While the workers fifty years ago worked one or two jobs in their lifetimes (regardless of whether or not they were satisfied or happy with their jobs), an unfulfilled team member today might explore four or five distinctly different careers – and work for more than one employer in each career.

Retention must become as important, if not more so, as acquisition. Leadership development must replace skillset training as the ongoing retention model.

The endless cycle of hiring, training, and inevitably replacing team members must stop. We all need to get off the proverbial hamster wheel. Given the enormous expense and instability associated with replacing and training new members, the importance of engaging and retaining current people on the team is even more critical, and yes, it’s more challenging now than at any point in the past.

But it is possible!

Here are a few easy and practical steps you can immediately begin using to improve team member happiness, retention, and engagement:

  • Listen to your team members, and give them a real voice in creating policies and procedures.
  • Embrace diversity and individuality – and allow your people to be themselves.
  • Encourage individual, written career plans and goals.
  • Incorporate short, focused, daily professional development – for individuals and groups.

The key is to never lose sight of the simple fact that your people have the ability to make or break your business. Effective, happy, loyal team members create and drive higher customer satisfaction. Their efforts and attitudes influence product and service quality more than anything else. Most of you know this, but it is amazing how often we lose sight of this. Help your team unlock their potential.

Do an honest evaluation of your team. Are they happy and growing professionally? Are they referring friends to you? Do you know how they feel and what they think about their jobs? Are you having conversations with your team members, before they begin looking elsewhere for a job?

Profit from what you learn; make changes now to better serve your team members. It will be the best investment you ever make.

If you are struggling with retention challenges in your organization, download East Tenth Group’s Guide to Engagement and Retention, which contains practical and actionable steps you can take immediately to help your business engage and retain the talent you need to remain competitive. One action today can make a difference.

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