I was reminded of Michael Gerber’s new book, the E-Myth Enterprise when I was out shopping this morning and receiving the cold shoulder treatment in almost every store I visited:

Uninspiring environment = unhappy employees = bad customer service = unhappy customers (who spread the unhappiness among family and friends…)

In his book Gerber says:

“Service is an incomplete word because it says, “The customer is king!” But as it works out in real life, the customer isn’t king except in the mind of the customer.

To the employees, the customer isn’t king; he’s often a pain in the ass. To the suppliers, the customer isn’t queen; she’s often a problem waiting to happen. To the lenders, the customer isn’t king; he’s often a drunk hanging on to a wagon careening into a wall.

No, the customer isn’t king to them – they are!
“If the customer is king,” they all ask privately, deep in the hidden recesses of their longing hearts, “what about me?” That’s what everybody else is asking too: “What about me?”

There can be no such thing as effective customer service in a company where the employees are disenchanted, where the owners aren’t making a decent profit, where the suppliers aren’t getting paid on time.

How true. If we are in business for some self serving reason, if we don’t love what we do, if we don’t love our product, our customers, our employees, our team members, etc. our business can’t be successful. Our dissatisfaction will leak out into what we do, what we touch, and it will be reflected in our product, our language, and our service.

However, it is a delicate balance. If we love our product more than our customers, they will feel left out. If we care more about our customers than our business, it will stall. If it’s all about us, well, then, nothing will work.

Yet, most business operate from exactly that premise: ‘what’s in it for me’. Most people are going into business for some ulterior motive: Making a lot of money, building an empire, being famous, successful, etc. It’s a paradox because of course you want to make money, be successful, build an empire. Why not? However, it’s what happens from you loving what you do. Not the other way around.

See, business is not just something you do to make money, or you go into because you are following your calling. You can’t separate business from life, it is your life!

To say it in Michael Gerber’s words:

“To most people, business is what goes on around us while we get on with our lives, something being done “out there” – at most a commercial enterprise, a place to make money, a place to go to work, a place to buy things, or a place that makes things we buy.
Few people seem to understand that business is much more than these individual factors.
In a free market system, business isn’t what goes on around us while we get on with our lives. Business is our lives. Business is what we do, all we do, who we are. Business is a living thing.”

Let me know what your thoughts are on the topic.

As always, thank you for reading.