Customer service Business management

Why Companies That Put the Customer First Are More Successful

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Tesco, Schoenen Torfs, KLM, Nike, Virgin … What more do these companies have in common than just being successful and profitable? They focus on the customer and the employee. After all, these companies are convinced that their product and service will not work if the customer experience is not optimal and to achieve this, they think that satisfied employees are an indispensable link.

Putting the employee first, the first step to success.

Richard Branson said: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients“. Of course, the customer remains king, but employees are the ambassadors of a brand. Whether the employee approaches the customer with a smile or with a sigh makes a big difference in the customer satisfaction experience. After all, the employee is supposed to put the customer first, but if this employee is not happy with his or her work, this will inevitably reflect on the customer. Doing a poor job harms the reputation as much as not being customer-friendly. Authenticity is what the customer is looking for. Behavior that matches the values of the brand is key.

From happy employee, through happy customer to a stronger customer relationship.

Regardless of the sector, a happy employee will give a positive impression of the brand to the customer. To reinforce this statement, below are some examples as illustrations.

Offline retail.

Schoenen Torfs (Torfs shoes) has been the best employer in Belgium for years in a row (companies> 500 employees). Shoes Torfs does nothing more and nothing less than … selling shoes, the “old-fashioned” way – mainly from a store. And yet this company is not only profitable, but also manages to win the sympathy of the customers and employees. How are they doing this? Schoenen Torfs positions itself as a family business success and invests accordingly in its staff by organizing family activities where employees’ families are welcome. 

Online retail

Coolblue does everything they can to bring a smile on the customer’s face. From free exchange and “same day delivery” to customer-friendly instructional videos “how to do“. This requires a lot of efforts from employees. They guarantee that an order that arrives at 10 p.m. will be delivered anyway the following day. And yet you always see the Coolblue delivery person with a smile at the door. Why? Flexibility. In addition to many activities that the company organizes for its employees, an employee can also work in all kinds of different contracts. Part-time, full-time, paid employment, self-employed…


In the travel industry and especially in aviation, there is a very strong competition, tight deadlines and international regulations. However, despite lower wage offerings and request for more employee flexibility (e.g. working hours…), KLM succeeded in becoming profitable and the number 1 sought-after employer in the Netherlands. The recipe? Transparent communication and delivering what you promise. On the one hand, CEO Pieter Elbers came to the helm in 2014 and asked for a salary freeze and at the same time higher productivity. On the other hand, there was the promise of more employee participation and profit sharing. Today, KLM is one of the most profitable airlines and a leader in customer experience.


The IT sector is a competitive sector when it comes to finding employees. IT people are sought-after on the labor market, which is why IT companies are automatically forced to invest in employees. At efficy we have launched the DEX program a program to increase satisfaction. This program offers a range of initiatives, from fresh fruit to corporate events. In addition, a specific program is underway to get more women to work at efficy. Invest by diversifying.

Focus on people, not on product.

The customer is well-informed today thanks to internet, social media and comparison websites. Justifying the product in detail offers no added value. The real added value is in the customer experience and that is achieved through the brand ambassadors: the employees. Thus, don’t be afraid to put the customer and the employee at the center and to invest in employees. Not only financially, but also with confidence, appreciation and respect. We started with a quote from Virgin founder Richard Branson, let’s also conclude with another: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to“. 

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