Thursday, 10 February 2011

Coming first by putting the customer second

I spent an inspiring day yesterday at Happy, learning what makes it such a great place to work. Some of the ideas were familiar, being inspired by Semco, a company I have long admired. But one insight especially stood out for me.

One of the Happy mantras is to put customers second; whereas most comanies claim to put customers first. But Happy's founder Henry Stewart reasons thus: if you hire good people and treat them well, they will demonstrate pride, passion and commitment that will result in exceptional service that delights customers because it is sincere and authentic. Happy's frequent awards for customer service and training are testament to the success of this approach.

Happy is no holiday camp; its staff work hard but they enjoy a democratic and inclusive management structure that invites ideas, accepts failure as an essential element of learning and development and trusts them get on with what they were hired to do, free of too many rules and policies. And it shows.

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