What is good business? To me it’s about operating in a manner that supports all stakeholders—not just the ones that write you the biggest checks, such as the advertisers, or the shareholders, who so often are focused on the near future’s bottom line, not the long-term sustainability. Employees are more than expense—they create the value of your organization. And in today’s complex world when so often the users of your products are not the customers who write the checks, it’s still good practice to keep the users happy so that they continue to use your services.
I get that these days it’s really common that the real customer (or at least the biggest customer) is often not the user. For example, in health care the insurance companies bring in most of the money. But without patients coming through the doors, insurance won’t be paying out for services. Same with online “free” services, such as social media and news outlets. We have always had to put up with advertising, whether it’s print advertising in our publications, which keeps subscription prices lower, or whether it’s to watch network television. Now, in order to use electronic services—paid and free—we have to consent to let all of our online activities be followed and sometimes, even when we don’t want to watch an ad, those ads keep playing anyway, using up valuable computing and server resources. Maybe we can’t opt out of necessary services, such as certain health care procedures or visits, but we can reduce using them for optional care. And with other more discretionary activities, we can stop using the service at all. With fewer users of services, the real—or the one paying the most—customer makes less money. Chasing away users of your services is bad for the bottom line.
It comes down to respect. Businesses need to respect all sides of the profit-making equation, even if not all equally contribute to the bottom line in an easily quantifiable manner. Reasonable employees and reasonable customers are why a business can provide what it provides in order to make a profit. Treat these stakeholders well, and your business should grow. Really, it’s not trickle-down, it’s trickle-up.
The hubris of scorning the “little people” is just not good business. Betting that the user will put up with almost anything is not a good long-term plan, especially in the face of an improving economy. Odds are most people remember how a business has made them feel—I know I do and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Treat me well and you might have me for life—without paying for any constantly playing videos or pop-up ads or whatever the next intrusive form of advertising is. (Visiting me in my dreams?)
You can say I’m a dreamer, but there are really no good reasons for it to be a dream for people to be treated well by corporations and other organizations.