If you need to increase your company's competitiveness and profit, where should you start? Should you focus on your employees first, or should you start by focusing on your customers first? In reality, you need to do both.

It is almost always best to start by focusing on your employees first. Highly satisfied and engaged employees are essential for achieving high levels of customer satisfaction, retention and long-term loyalty. Start by listening to your employees and taking action based on their ongoing feedback.

Conduct an employee survey / employee engagement survey to gather information, suggestions and insight from your employees. Ask them about what it is like to work for your company and what can be done to help them do their jobs more effectively and to do a better job of taking care of customers.

Don't be surprised if you end up identifying a very large number of challenges and opportunities. If challenges and problems exist, you need to know about them, prioritise them and take action.

Your goal should be to use the employee survey results to achieve large-scale increases in employee engagement and satisfaction, with a much greater focus on your customers and meeting or exceeding their expectations.

Once you start to achieve positive results, you should also conduct customer surveys to assess customer satisfaction levels and to see how your customers feel about your company, your employees, your products and services and other key issues that drive customer satisfaction and retention. Don't be afraid to ask customers about things you know you are not doing well. You need to learn about how customers feel.

In summary, take good care of your employees, set the right direction, provide good leadership, identify problems and opportunities, take action and measure ongoing progress. This will enable your company to attract and retain customers and to be competitive and profitable.