Comment Dec/Jan 2018/19

Who comes first – customer or staff?

This is the second time that we’re publishing a Health and Well-being Special in OPI and there’s no sign of interest in this sector waning. Indeed, momentum, as OPI Deputy Editor Michelle Sturman says, is still building.

Great news for manufacturers and resellers that are tapping into this category and maximising the many and varied sales opportunities. And the product possibilities are becoming ever broader. While ergonomic chairs and sit-stand desks are fast becoming the norm, there are plenty more sub-categories, lighting being one of the emerging ones.

However, ‘healthy’ products are just a small fragment of the total ‘employee happiness’ picture. The onus on employers to provide an all-round fulfilling, enjoyable and healthy workplace is becoming more important than ever, not just from a productivity perspective, but very much from the viewpoint of attracting and retaining quality staff.

It could be argued that only happy staff result in happy customers, whoever they may be. Our Case Study candidates are acutely aware of this, as is our Big Interviewee Dolph Westerbos, although customer satisfaction remains very much at the top of Staples Solutions’ agenda.

In fact, the customer, certainly in our industry, still appears to tower head and shoulders above everything else. As Christa Furter recalls, 20 years ago it was Viking that dazzled with ‘fanatical’ customer service; today, customer ‘obsession’ is Amazon’s mantra. For more on Amazon Business and its impact on our industry, check out our Hot Topic.

Whatever anybody thinks of the online giant – and I appreciate the competitive debates and some of the controversy surrounding its model and certain practices – there’s no doubt in my mind that Amazon has got its customer focus and user-friendly shopping experience down to a tee. Never more so than during the Christmas period when busy work schedules and the need to be ultra-organised at home collide. And Amazon Prime has been a lifesaver for many I’m sure.

On that note, I wish all OPI readers a very happy festive season and a successful – and healthy – 2019. It will be an interesting year for many operators, there’s no doubt about that!