“We should build relationships first and then do business second.”

That’s a telling, yet simple quote from President & COO of 1-800-Flowers, Chris McCann. Almost a d’uh answer if you ask any business owner, be it retail or otherwise. Yet it’s an axiom that’s almost always forgotten or neglected when faced with the daily bustle of running a business. More concerning is the fact that business owners tend to overlook this concept when dealing with their own employees.

I happened to catch the season finale of Undercover Boss, in which McCann spent his week taking on a variety of different roles within his company’s massive operations. As TheStreet.com pointed out in a recent article, what he learned during his brief stint doing floral arrangements presented a Eureka! moment that ultimately resulted in a significant change for the company’s service offering – they needed to listen to their team as much as their customers.

While the old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” still holds true for many businesses, being complacent can sometimes hide the possibility that something is breaking. In the case of 1-800-Flowers, it dawned on Chris when one of his “co-workers” that week expressed her frustration (and boredom) with doing the same floral arrangements day after day, that some real threats to their market share was looming on the horizon: employee/franchisee/affiliate dissent, customers wanting more uniqueness, and inability to capitalize on new floral trends.

Taking the time and effort to strengthen communication channels with your employees should be a priority for owners and managers. Your staff are at the front lines and are on the pulse of customer response and satisfaction. Sometimes, taking notice of their feedback could lead to new ways to improve efficiency and services.

Read TheStreet.com’s article to see how 1-800-Flowers responded to one employee’s dissatisfaction with the company’s ongoing complacency.