It doesn’t matter where you work or what your job is, the reason for your organization, department, or your job is for the customer you directly serve. I know people struggle with identifying their customer because their job is not “customer facing”. If you struggle with identifying your customer, ask who depends on you to get your work done? That’s your customer. If you say nobody, then you should be looking for another job. There is no need for your job.
Many times, customers are not treated like customers. The people who serve them don’t see their customers as customers. When I’ve been treated like a non-customer it’s like I am an inconvenience.
Quite frankly, as a customer I don’t care about all that you have to get done before the end of the day, or that you were in the middle of working on something else, or that I didn’t follow your process, or why you had to cancel a meeting with me. All I care about is that I chose to be your customer and pay you so that I can be your customer.
As someone who provides a product or service, you need to remember that your customer has no idea what your internal situation is. A customer can decide to become a customer somewhere else. Treat your customers like you know they can leave you (because they can). Make them feel like they couldn’t experience your level of service anywhere else.
Here are some real quotes from people who don’t think they have customers:
|What they said||What they should have said|
|“We are really busy.”||“I’ll be right with you. Do you mind waiting while I finish?”|
|“Wait a minute.”||“I’m sorry you had to wait. How can I help you?”|
|“You’re gonna have to fill out this form “||“Can I have you fill out this form?”|
|“You should have followed this process“||“Can I help you with this process.”|
|“I (or we) can’t do that.”||“We don’t offer that. Would you consider?”|
Notice how the statements from people who don’t think they have customers are statements. Customers don’t respond well when they are told what to do. It says you aren’t going to get the product or service unless you do as I say. Questions to your customers say that you are asking for their permission to serve them. Your customer may need to follow your process, but inviting them through a question is much easier for a customer to receive.
When have you been treated like a non-customer?
What could have been a better way for you to be treated like a customer?