Who am I? I am the person who seeks to interact with you; sometimes every day, sometimes occasionally, or sometimes just once in a lifetime. I may visit you in person, or I may be a disembodied voice on the telephone, or even a string of numbers on an internet line. But however I contact you, how often I am in touch, I am looking to you to provide a solution.
I am your customer.
But not solely your customer. It’s not that I’m fickle, but I have many needs and you can’t possibly supply all of the goods and services that I’m going to require in my lifetime. Nevertheless, right now in this moment I have chosen to put my trust in you, believing that you will endeavour to meet my current requirements to the best of your ability. If you do so our bonds will strengthen and I will visit again. Let me down and I may have to depart in search of another more trustworthy partner.
At the start of our relationship I am wary. You see, I have been let down before. I have been beguiled by sweet promises of customer focused service only to find that outward expression clothed a core of customer indifference. Surely an organisation is one entity and if it professes customer excellence then every department and every individual has to be focused on the same goal. Or to put it another way, as Jan Carlzon, the person credited with turning around Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), famously said:
“If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.”
I understand that. And realistically it doesn’t really matter if I have very complex requirements or simply walk in to your shop, pick something off the shelf, pay and leave. Either way the experience I receive is the sum of every action and every attitude not simply across your organisation but also reaching out into the supply chain. Sure your premises may look great and your staff may smile; but if your IT department is more focused on playing with complex programming rather than creating a user friendly system and if your accounts department forces penny-pinching savings which devalue the product then my experience is only going to go one way.
I am your customer and I really want our relationship to work. After all, if you let me down then you force me to question my own judgement and also potentially damage my ability to trust others in the future. And that’s not great for anyone!
So understand that as a customer of your business by extension I also become the customer of everyone within your business. And by creating a customer centric culture, in which every individual is engaged in customer excellence you will not only create a business with which I want to have a lasting relationship, but also one which I will passionately advocate others to join with. I am your customer; help me to stay that way.