How Do You Put Your Employees First?

The notion of internal marketing has been around for a while.  It exists when an organization’s leadership communicates to employees about the need to effectively serve and satisfy its customers to create customer value (Kotler & Keller, 2012).[1]  Although external marketing promotions are critical for connecting customers and other key stakeholders with the organization’s brand, those promotions are not enough.  Internal marketing promotions are needed to communicate to the employees so they better understand their role in delivering exceptional customer service.  In a Wall Street Journal article discussing some of the more recent challenges in the fast food industry, Light (2015) stated, “Customer focus is important, but employees come first.”[2]  After all, it is the organization’s employees who interact with its customers.  If employees don’t fully understand their role to deliver knock-your-socks-off customer service, they can tarnish the company’s brand.

Delivery of exceptional customer value applies to all employees in the organization, not just the front-line employees.  To effectively deliver superior customer service, all employees need to be on the same page about the organization’s products and services.  This requires the organization to have one voice in its communication with customers (Kotler & Keller, 2012).  In other words, failure to deliver superior customer service can result from poor communication to employees and/or lax standards and expectations.  Weak support from the organization’s leadership to promote a climate of best practices can be a contributing factor for slipshod delivery of customer service (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985).[3]

What is important to keep in mind is to view customer relationships with a win-win perspective.  When a customer’s needs are met, they get as much value out of their relationship with the organization as does the organization.  If leaders don’t invest in their employees who help create this value, then the customers will likely drift to companies that do.

A checklist to examine your organization:

  • Do your employees understand how they create value for your customers?
  • Does your organization have one voice when communicating with its customers?
  • Does your organization’s leadership promote a climate of best practices?
  • How do you put your employees first? How do you invest in your employees?

[1] Kotler, P., & Keller, K. (2012). A framework for marketing management (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

[2] Light, L. (2015, February 11). How to revive McDonald’s. Retrieved from Wall Street Journal:  Retrieved from

[3] Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., & Berry, L. L. (1985). A conceptual model of service quality and its implications for future research. Journal of Marketing, 49(4).

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