Any customer service expert will tell you that every business has two sets of customers: the internal and the external. While most marketing efforts are directed towards external customers (the people who buy our goods and services), all too often, the internal customer (employees) is neglected or worse.

I tell everyone that the #1 marketing tool any company has is their customer service. If a business does not offer good to great customer service, then all other marketing efforts and monies spent are wasted. (By the way, that is measured by the customer experience, not by what you think it is.) Any company that doesn’t provide a high level of customer service will spend most of its marketing efforts replacing one-time or short-term customers instead of building and growing its customer base.

One of the ways that high levels of customer service can be attained and sustained is to treat employees as customers and market to them. Whatever the message regarding customer service is in the corporate culture, that is the way that employees should be treated. The Ritz Carlton used to have a motto about the demeanor of its employees: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” That indicated that employees should never think of themselves as less than the guests in their hotel.

Just as a business may have customer loyalty programs, how about instituting an employee loyalty program? Or recognize the value and contribution of your employees to the success of the business with holiday gifts?

Companies where employees feel that they are an integral, respected and appreciated part of the work culture will be more productive. In addition, they will tend to stay with the company longer, cutting turnover rates – a tangible savings to employee-related expenses.

In other words, if you are not marketing to your employees, you are wasting an invaluable opportunity to grow your business.