Would you not love to be like Richard Branson? Would you not love to be able to take your small company and build it into a global powerhouse capable of shaping the world? If so, there are two secrets of Branson's success that few people know about. First, his number one goal is to achieve the highest possible customer service. Second, he believes the best way to achieve goal #1 is to put his employees before his customers.

At first, it may sound as if Branson's philosophy is counterproductive. But it is actually spot on. The fact is that you need your employees to not only work hard but also to be engaged with the company and its customers if you want to achieve the best possible customer service. If your workers are happy, they will:

Branson is not the only business expert who holds what appears to be such a revolutionary view. Countdown presenter and business personality Nick Hewer has practiced the same philosophy since starting his first business over 30 years ago – although he describes it differently. He views customers as close family members that he never wants to lose. He protects those customer relationships by looking after staff and treating them well.

Customers and Workers Not Competing

In an era of ultra-efficiency and hyper cost-cutting, employees are too often reduced to nothing more than assets that the company uses to produce profits. Too often this leads to a mentality that pits customers against employees to compete for a business owner's attention. It does not need to be that way. In fact, your customers and your employees are not competing teams struggling to see who can achieve a superior position in the eyes of company owners and managers.

The truth is that employees are not simply assets. They are team members who make up the living, breathing structure of your business. Making sure that team is healthy, happy and productive ensures that your company is actually capable of achieving the level of customer service that has made Richard Branson's Virgin a household brand.

So, what can you do to foster happy employees? Here are just a few suggestions from CGMA:

Let's face it; most of us work because we have to, not because we want to. The goal for the business owner and his/her management team is to change that attitude. It is to create a work environment that is so attractive to employees that they actually look forward to coming in every day. When they want to come to work, it is because they know they are accomplishing something of value. That translates into Branson and Hewer's brand of customer service.

One final note: both Branson and Hewer believe in paying their employees well. Competitive compensation and benefit packages show your workers that they are important members of the team, not just assets to be managed along with the office furniture. When they are valued, your workers are happy. When they are happy, they make your customers happy as well.