Staff First or Customer First?


I was walking by one of the branch of May Bank in Singapore and noticed that they have a sign that something like this: “We know that if we look after our staff, they will (reciprocate our care by) take great care of our customers”

For May Bank, that slogan is not just another Management’s lip service. I believe that that message is genuine. I personally experienced it as a customer, watching how the bank’s staff worked together with one another and the genuine service that they gave.

An article “Ebullient Bridge Builder” appeared in The Business Times Weekend Jun 9 to 10, 2012. Maybank’s customer Goh Geok Khim, Executive Chairman of GK Goh Holdings said this of the bank “Unlike many bankers where bankers jump in and out of jobs, Maybank was unusual because its team stayed on through thick and thin, and hence they really know their customers well.” There is a bigger real story in this article that you can read up on the internet.

It is rare to find such an employer. I understand what Goh is talking about. I worked in another competitor in Singapore for 5 years. Internal competition was fierce; blame-shifting, credit stealing, back stabbing and favoritism was rampant and so was management staff making use of staff to further one’s career.

For May Bank, it is not about doing the right thing but rather about treating people right. People know it when you do that.

Employees Blamed for Job Hopping

In any recruitment drive, jobs applicants are often blamed for job hopping. However, when workplace safety is badly managed; when poor business decisions made led to retrenchments or workplace mobbing happens and so on; is the employee to be blamed for the short tenure?

Abrasive Customers: Is The Customer Always Right?

The Straits Times published the news about the female employer of a female domestic worker (made) 10 September 2014. She punched the maid in the eye; kicked her on the body and the private parts until she bled; and hitting her back with a foldable chair.

If this is your customer or if any of your customer treats your front line staff in an abusive way, either on the phone, in the email or in person, will you still want to keep the customer?

A Vital Clue

I had published an article “Workplace and Education Crisis.” I am searching for a new framework out of the workplace crisis. If an employer is doing  things right, I would want to learn from them.

The following statement from May Bank’s corporate responsibility policy provide a vital clue: “At Maybank, we know our staff are our greatest asset, and are therefore committed to ensuring an attractive and conducive work environment for them. Our policies are geared towards optimizing the well-being and fulfilment of each individual, nurturing their strengths and interests in their preferred areas.”

If you had seen my recommended video of Sir Ken Robinson, you will realize the importance of spirits, environment and individuality (person-centric).

Clearing the Confusion

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd said the above on numerous occasions. Here are just 2 of them.

“It’s customers No. 1, employees, two, and shareholders, three. It’s the customer who pay us the money, it’s the employees who drive the vision, and it’s the shareholders who when the [financial] crisis comes, these people ran away. My customers and my people stayed.” – Upstart Business Journal, April 16, 2014

To Charlie Rose: “I have said on numerous occasions that we will put ‘customers first, employees second and shareholders third.’ I can see that investors who hear this for the first time may find it a bit hard to understand. Let me be clear: as fiduciaries of the company, we believe that the only way for Alibaba to create long-term value for shareholders is to create sustainable value for customers. So customers must come first.” – Mashable, September 17, 2014

There is a confusion, I want to clear the confusion here:

The entrepreneur knows that a business can sell something a product or service only if they meet the needs of the customers who are the ones exchanging their hard earned money for the products and services.

The entrepreneur knows that he cannot run the business alone. For that he must trust as well as support or facilitate his employees to look after his customers and their needs, so that he will not lose customers; so that he can sell more; have repeated business and have referrals. For this reason, the entrepreneur must make his best efforts to hire the right people.


Ebullient Bridge Builder

Convicted Maid Abuser Gets Another 3 Months

Corporate Responsibility: People

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