Why Not Treat Customers, Employees and Suppliers Badly?

We are not here merely to earn a living and to create value for our shareholders. We are here to enrich the world and make it a finer place to live. We will impoverish ourselves if we fail to do so.

– Woodrow Wilson

I cannot help noticing that the arguments for treating customers right are based on revenue and profits. I cannot help noticing that the arguments for treating employees right are based ultimately on revenue and profits. I cannot help noticing that the arguments for treating suppliers right are either missing or when present are also justified on the basis of the impact on revenues and profits.

If we justify action on the basis of revenue and profit then surely it is OK to treat:

  • customers badly if that will lead to higher revenues and profits?
  • employees badly if that will lead to higher revenues and profits?
  • suppliers badly if that will lead to higher revenues, profits or cash-flow?
  • the wider community badly if that will lead to higher revenues and profits?

If you are a customer how much trust do you put in a company if it treating you well as a means of harvesting high profits? As an employee how much trust do you put in a company that treats you well only because it expects to maximise profits?  You get the idea.

One more point to consider, what was the source of the corporate scandals and the financial crisis of 2008? Was it not the pursuit of revenue, profit and bonus maximisation irrespective of the consequences falling on others?

Is there any other basis, other than revenue and profit maximisation, for treating our fellow human beings well?   I say let’s stop for a moment and listen to the words of Srikumar S. Rao in his book Are You Ready to Succeed?

What a sorry pass we have come to when simple decent behaviour has to be “justified” in terms of some other benefit. What happens if behaving without integrity can get you growth and unparalleled profit?

… you treat the customer right because that is how you like to be treated. You treat your employees well because that is the proper thing to do. You behave with integrity because that is an expression of who and what you are. These are the givens. You DO NOT have to justify or explain or rationalise any of it.

…. if you attempt to link your values with external measures like profit, you cheapen them and you discredit your actions.

As I look around, I cannot help but notice that that the companies which are heralded as exemplars of customer-centricity and employee engagement are not pursuing revenue and profit maximisation. Instead they are pursuing a purpose that calls to their customer and employees, treating people right, and harvesting the benefits in terms of productivity, innovation, engagement, loyalty and advocacy.

What do you say?


Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

10 thoughts on “Why Not Treat Customers, Employees and Suppliers Badly?”

  1. Management for short term revenues and profits is the fall-back position for the uninspired and uninspiring leader. They lack the courage to back themselves for the long term and they are followed through fear as opposed to vision.

    There is a better way, and you have nailed it Maz.


    1. Hello Dougie

      Wow, great to hear your voice Dougie. And many thanks for your uplifting support. Why? I had to fight myself to write the post. Why? Because I kept telling myself, who wants to hear you say that Maz? Who cares? You have shown me that you care.

      I wish you the very best and look forward to hearing your voice once again.

      At your service / with my love


    1. Hello Mark

      It occurs to me that you have got to the heart of the matter when you say “Treating others with respect in the spirit of service builds trust and makes you feel awesome doing it.”

      What really hits home for me is the “and makes you feel awesome doing it”. That is the point isn’t it. We only willingly do that which makes us feel awesome. And being social creatures many of us cannot help but be touched when we touch lives.

      Yes, we need to make money to make our way in the world. And for most of us, money on its own is not enough. We need to feel that our lives matter, that we are using our lives to good effect, that we are making a difference, making a contribution. And we need that human connection.

      I thank you for turning a monologue into a conversation. Your presence is welcome here. And until the next time I wish you the very best.

      At your service / with my love


  2. If you are treating these relationships respectfully and with true value, revenue and profit will become a happy bi-product and create continued success.

    If people/companies continue to think it’s a dog eat dog world, then unfortunately it will be. However, in this new age of information and the power of the internet, I think those parties will be found out sooner than they used to be.

    Being “pandered to” under false pretense in order for the other party to profit is soon recognised and from there, the trust disappears and the end is inevitable.

    Surely successful business can still exist if we’re all genuinely nice to each other.

    To quote from the classic film, Bill and Ted – Be excellent to each other!


    1. Hello James

      many thanks for providing the link, I intend to view it shortly. As you know I have an avid interest in the human condition.

      It occurs to me that as soon as you factor in short-term and long-term then you are talking about the calculating mind. And the calculating mind tends to be concerned with what is best for it, and which path is most likely to deliver the desired outcome – to enrich oneself.

      No, I treat you well as I recognise your humanity. I recognise your humanity because you and I share the same humanity. Every human beings seeks to avoid pain and bask in happiness. It is about a certain ethos, a specific way of showing up in the world.

      All the best


  3. Hi Maz,
    You say that companies that are held up as “exemplars of customer-centricity and employee engagement are not pursuing revenue and profit maximisation”.

    I’m not sure I agree with that. I think that do pursue revenue and profit but they are playing a different and longer game and one that they know is underpinned by respect and care for their employees and their customers. They, for me, are pursuing a model that is built for sustainability and not just for reaping short term rewards regardless of the consequences.

    Perhaps, we’re agreeing here.



    1. Hello Adrian

      It occurs to me that we are not in agreement. It occurs to me that they these two paths are distinct.

      All the best


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: