Which Came First: The Employee or the Customer?

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If the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile. Richard Branson


Ever heard the question: Which came first the chicken or the egg?

I swear that it feels like a circular discussion and what do we learn anyway? I see this complication, too, when working with clients.

Which comes first: the employee or the customer?

Opinion 1

Some would argue that without the first customer ready and willing to buy, there would be no employee to serve them. So, this camp believes that we need to focus 100% of our efforts on delighting our customers.

Opinion 2

Some would say that it takes one good employee to produce a good idea or a product in order to generate interest by the first customer. So, this camp believes that we need to focus predominantly on delighting our employees.


I often have clients who want to transform their customer experience. Usually, they are comparing themselves to organizations that are “known for” excellent customer experiences. Then, I turn the conversation in a different direction. It goes something like this:

This is very exciting that you are prepared to move forward with a customer experience strategy, but let’s take a look at your employee experience strategy first.


They are most often shocked at this response!


What does the employee experience have to do with the customer experience?

Which is more important the employee or the customer? I can tell you that 100% of the top brands are first known for how they treat their employees. Jet Blue, Southwest, Disney, Virgin and many more. They all recognize the value of their people. They all focus on providing an excellent employee experience first. They know that it will flow over to their customers and to their profits.


Tips to Get Your Organization Moving in the Right Direction

  • Find out what your employees think of your organization
  • Come up with an employee experience strategy
  • Map out the current state of their experience pre-recruitment through their exit (if they leave)
  • Involve them and gather their voices about all touch points
  • Make improvements
  • Establish a way to track impact and results


These are some big picture steps you can start to think about. Then, just start doing what it takes to, first, transform your employee experience!


Check out this clip from Richard Branson from a few years ago. He sums it up wonderfully!


To answer the often confusing question, what came first the chicken or the egg? It’s the egg, of course!


Thank you for following along on this post. This is one of the most important topics an organization must grapple with when faced with conflicting priorities. I hope that I have clarified things a bit. Please Share this post with anyone you think might benefit.

I would be interested to read your comments on the topic and am always open to differing opinions.






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