"The client must come first!" explained the financial advisor. He had just been screaming at his associate, and I asked what was going on. "She made a mistake that affects the client, and I'm teaching her a lesson she won't easily forget."
He was right — she would probably never forget it. She would also never fully trust him again, she would live in fear of making more mistakes, and she would come to hate her job. Don't you think the clients would sense that?
The best leaders don't put their clients first. They put their team first.
Why? Because when the team comes first, people develop deeper bonds of trust, camaraderie, and accountability, and all the work that the team then undertakes — all the actions that actually help clients — come from a stronger place. People cover for each other. They share best practices. They brainstorm honestly about what's working well and what could be improved. And all of this leads to a better client experience.
The client will feel like he or she comes first, because they're being served by a cohesive, integrated force. By putting the team first, you help the client win. But if you put the client ahead of the team, you weaken the foundation you need to strengthen, and no one wins.
Do you want to know how you can serve your clients better? Forget client surveys. Ask your team how things could work better for them, and start there.