So you're out to build a great company. Where should you focus first: building a great team or defining a great customer experience?
If you ask around, nearly everyone will say the team comes first. The right people with the right values are essential.
While the right people ARE essential, let me explain why some really good leaders have it backwards. You will get better and more consistent results by defining the customer experience first.
Great teams don't necessarily deliver great customer experiences
There are lots of great teams -- highly motivated, work well together -- delivering lackluster(or worse) customer experiences. It's not that they don't care. It's that the team's "greatness" is defined in terms of the team.
Defining the customer experience first ensures that your great team is aligned with the customer's interests. Your customer's experience becomes foundational to your great team. Your team has no purpose unless it delivers a great experience for YOUR customer.
Team-focused: "We have a great team because people bring their dogs to work."
Customer-focused: "We deliver a great customer experience because we attract the best people. We've found with dogs in the office, people communicate better and have a work environment where more gets done."
The Right Perspective Makes All the Difference
At this point, a lot of really smart leaders still argue with me. They are stuck on viewing the customer experience from their company's perspective. As soon as they Think Like Their Best Clients, BAM! it suddenly become blindingly obvious.
Once they see their company's purpose as improving their customer's business, they make that the hub around which everything revolves. When you build your team around a great experience for your customer (and great to the customer means improving their business), EVERYTHING else automatically aligns.
Start with a great experience that improves your customer's business, add the right people with the right values, and your customers will love you for it.