It’s on the tip of almost every corporate tongue: “We always put our customers first”. It’s one of those corporatisms which sounds great, but is really quite flawed.
If they put you first, just because you place business with them, then all that means is that their motives are selfish. They’re selecting and favouring people on the basis of the level of benefit to themselves, and sacrificing everyone else. It’s just cupboard-love!
The problem with this, is that as soon as their motives diverge from yours, they’ll put someone else first.
What happens when they’ve made a mistake? They’ve demonstrated they will do what’s best for them, so will they think it’s in their own interests to be honest with you?
We’ve all been at the hands of a provider that tells us porkie pies, and those are the same companies telling us they put their customers first.
And do you want to work for a company like that, or invest in one? They put customers before their staff and shareholders!
It’s a silly, meaningless statement, like so many similar corporate standard phrases we can tend to just accept as reasonable, when they really are not. First in what? In absolutely all decisions? If so, I presume you don’t charge your customers anything. Because, if you do, then you’re putting yourself before your customer in that circumstance. Of course there’s nothing wrong with charging customers and putting yourself first in that circumstance, but it just shows how nonsensical the statement is. If you can prove this exception to the rule, then the rule becomes meaningless until fully explored and defined. Which actual circumstances are the ones in which you put customers first?
Instead of “We always put our customers first”, we prefer statements like “We always try to do the right thing”. It means more, and it’s more honest.
We even make a point of including the word “try”. There’s a chance we’ll misjudge or get it wrong; we make mistakes, just like everyone else. We do genuinely try though – and I think usually succeed. This can be pretty painful at the time, but overall it’s the right thing to do.
If a potential supplier states they will put you first then as soon as their motives diverge from yours, they’ve already proven they’ll choose what’s best for them.
Better to work with a supplier that clearly states their intentions and motives, and lives for them, not just “whatever suits them personally best at the time.”