Customer First Culture


Company culture is a funny thing. No matter how much we try to manipulate and influence it, ultimately it is what it is. Your true company culture is really defined by the sum total of the actions of all of the members of the organisation. Perhaps more significantly, your real company culture is what your employees do when you’re not looking.

When it comes to the customer service culture of an organisation, I reckon every single company you ask would say things like, ‘The Customer is Always Right’ or ‘The Customer Comes First’ at our company. Even those companies that might not even be considered to be in a service industry. Why? Well, because they understand intellectually that this is the right approach. That we’re all in the customer service business. But I do question how many organisations take it super seriously. How many actually look at every single customer touch point to ensure that each process would look in a Customer First Culture?

Last week I witnessed a great example of one that didn’t.

It was on a domestic flight in Asia. The name of the airline doesn’t matter. Though I’m sure those of you that are keen enough to look into it can soon work it out.

Where’s my luggage?

Once the pilot had landed the little ATR aircraft on this remote runway, we got off the plane and walked across the tarmac to the arrivals area to wait for our luggage. What I love about these little regional airports is that you get see what goes on behind the scenes. Not like those big airports where all the inner workings are hidden behind walls and panels. As I was waiting for my luggage, for over 30 minutes, this is what I saw (see title image above). My luggage was still sitting in plane while the cargo was unloaded. WTF?

Customer Second Culture!

Now, I can assure you that I did try to think of all the possible reasons why they did it this way.

  • They did not need to rush the cargo into a refrigerated storage – it just sat there on the ground at the airport until after all passenger luggage was finally cleared.
  • There was no other cargo loaded into the hold after this load was taken out. So it had nothing to do with the need to empty and reload quickly.
  • The cart/trolley used to move the cargo was the same as for the luggage and they had more than one of them. So there were no issues with needing specialised tools or anything like that.
  • And it was the same staff who unloaded both the cargo and the luggage. So again, there was no special restrictions here.
  • I even thought maybe these little aircraft might have a fuel tank in the back and that needed to be refilled so the cargo hold needed to be cleared as a priority. Nope.

I genuinely could not see any possible reason why the cargo came off first.

The only answer that made sense – A Customer Second Culture.

To be fair, the cargo also belongs to a customer too. But if it’s just going to sit there on the ground anyway, what’s the rush? Clearly the cargo customer isn’t getting any benefit by having their stuff offloaded first.

Touch Points

So, it got me thinking about all the little touch points that we have in our spas. How could these be reimagined if we asked ourselves how could we make that bit better for our customers. In a previous article on Lessons from a Spa Manager’s Meeting I touched on the idea of the us asking the customer to arrive 15 minutes earlier for their treatment. That’s not about the customer. It’s about us wanting to make sure we’re not left waiting.

Selling Time

One of my favourite takeaways from my chat with Nicolas Ronco of YeloSpa in the most recent episode of my podcast Inside the Spa Business was the concept of letting guests book time. YeloSpa clients can book treatments in 10 minute increments, rather than having to select a predefined treatment for a predefined duration. Nicolas explained how this allows his clients to fit YeloSpa into their schedule, rather than forcing them to fit in the spa’s schedule. A great example of Customer First Culture.

Zappos is famous for their Customer First culture. So much so that they’ve even created a division of their company to teach others the Zappos culture. Check out Zappos Insights. If you don’t have a budget to pay for one of their courses, no worries. Just Google Zappos Culture or Zappos Customer Service and you’ll find some great examples.

Remember, culture is what we do when nobody’s looking. It doesn’t matter if it comes from the top or the bottom. But it does have to be embraced by everyone and every level within the organisation.

What could you do right now to start proving customers really do come first at your spa?