Understand Your Customer First

Posted on March 25, 2012


As a front line employee in various capacities, I have learned a lot about interacting with customers.   When it comes to being customer first, a few things stand out.  Everyone strives to be customer first, organizations and employees, whether or not they actually are.  Also, new employees, those with 2 years or less experience in the industry or with the organization, do not always understand the customer.  It is difficult to be customer first if you don’t.   Here are three areas where new employees can improve their understanding of the customer:


Experience is one of the best teachers.  Interacting with customers relies on your communication skills and judgment, which are shaped over time.   There is also a learning curve in starting in a new role or with a new organization.   Early on, it may not be clear what’s working and not working.  Also, you will not necessarily be clear on everything, because you haven’t seen everything.   However, the longer you work in a role, field, or an organization, the more experience you have to draw from.

Training and Development

While experience is a great teacher, as an organization, you cannot assume it will work.  Training is a great way to communicate proper practices and procedures.  Without it, you cannot expect your employees will know what to do.  However, learning does not stop when the initial training ends. Ongoing training and development efforts are great ways to reinforce best practices and make sure people are continuing to learn and develop.  Learning on the job is inevitable and great, so long as people are learning the right things.

Leadership and Mentors

Leaders, mentors, and managers can spearhead any training and development efforts.   People in these roles can communicate and reinforce best practices and guide employees.  This is especially useful when there is more than one right way or there are conflicting rules.  Leaders and mentors can clarify what those situations are and how to resolve them.    These more experienced staff can also share from their experience which can speed up the learning curve for new employees.