Great customer service means that employees should come first…

Posted: 19th January, 2016. Topics:

Following on from my customer service blog last week, and never one to just stop researching about excellent customer service, the following quote popped up on my email early this week:

… and I was intrigued by this because I have always believed that in every job I have ever done in retail, charities and schools, if you look after the customers, the business/organisation thrives and employees benefit, and thus the customer benefits etc. Obviously, employees are an important part of the business when growing, but benefits are better if an organisations is thriving.

This made me think that Independent Schools should really have the best customer service and customers should be very engaged with the school they have chosen. Why is this? Staff at Independent Schools should be the happiest people in their jobs because staff generally receive higher salaries than those of their maintained school counterparts, as well as receiving a huge variety of additional benefits including free school meals, free refreshments, free car-parking for many schools, the ability to enjoy many national and international trips (my personal favourite has been Scottish Winter Mountaineering), and free accommodation for many staff.

For academic staff, there are long holidays that generally work around the school terms so in many cases for those that have children, child care is not necessary.

Most importantly for many, the staff discount on independent education can be between 25-66% off the fees depending on what school you go to which makes school fees affordable, and additionally allows parents to see and make contact with their children during the  working day Рhow many organisations can say they facilitate that?

At Abbotsholme, additionally, there are staff committees for staff to talk about working conditions, academic issues, pastoral issues and teaching and learning queries and staff are empowered to come up with ideas to support each; there is cake Wednesday – my personal favourite – when the wonderful catering staff make all staff a sweet treat to celebrate the middle of the working week, and we have just introduced breakfast for all staff on inset days to give them chance to catch up following the school holidays.

However, no organisation is perfect and there is always lots more than can be done!

But going back to my original thought about customers/clients being the boss, versus staff being the most important, it all comes down to the chicken and egg theory looking at the quote above: did the customer come first (and is thus the most important), or did the employee? If there are no customers, there can be no employees (people to teach, clean the school, feed the pupils, look after the school and staff), but if (in the independent sector world) there are no employees, then we cannot look after the customer. Which came first? Answers on a postcard….. or twitter/facebook!

I am going to end this blog with a few quotes from Mr Branson that I think are worth mentioning:

‘If someone offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it….. say yes, then learn how to do it later.” (which fits in with last weeks blog about saying yes to the customer and working out how to do what you have said yes to after; and

‘The best advice I could ever give anyone is to spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life.’

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