Who is Your Customer?

Customer service is a big area of focus for any business.  Everyone has their own recipe from “the customer is always right,” to “treat your customer how you want to be treated,” to “make sure your customer is ‘very satisfied.'”

Ultimately the common notion, no matter what the doctrine, is that customer service is paramount to the success of any business. The same can be said for you and your “business.”  How you treat customers in your job is a direct reflection of the your career success. While these statements will garner a lot of nodding heads, what most people miss is the scope of who the customer is.

Most will consider the customer the person who pays for a product or service that the company you work for offers. While this is true in the literal sense, the customer concept permeates well beyond.  Many will think something along these lines, “well I am an analyst in the internal accounting department, so I don’t interface with customers directly.”

This mindset is completely incorrect.

No matter what job you have, you have a customer. Your primary customer is your boss. While your company technically pays you, your boss is the one that is the primary conduit to your future paycheck. Just like an external customer, if you boss isn’t happy then it made lead to the end of “revenue” from this customer (i.e. you get fired).

It is not uncommon to have multiple customers as well.  In taking a servant’s mindset (see Career advice in 6 words or less) your employees are also your customers. Therefore your customers could include: your boss, your direct reports and actual external customers.

In order to truly “delight” your customers there are three (fairly self-explanatory) steps to take:

  1. Figure out what is important to that customer– It is not about selling them on what “services” you have to offer (the tasks and skills you have) but instead on the things important to them
  2. Set the proper expectations with your customer– Don’t over-commit. In the case that your “customer” is your boss, let your boss know how long it will take for your to complete a project and make sure to turn it in on time.  This is the “talking the talk” of the equation.
  3. Deliver on what you promised– Tell a peer of yours that you will attend a meeting for them and then make sure to attend (and report back on what key points were discussed), the examples or endless, even when you are not focusing on someone who is not the traditional definition of an external “customer.” Just remember that it is all about follow through, aka “walking the walk.”

One key thing to remember is that it does not always take grandiose actions and well crafted plans to offer unique and exceptional customer service. One of the best example can be seen in the story of Johnny The Bagger.

Just remember the simple thing that Johnny did and the big difference it made to his customers.




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About Young Professional's Edge (YP Edge)

Aaron McDaniel is a corporate manager, entrepreneur, author, public speaker and community leader. Aaron has held numerous management roles at a Fortune 500 company, being appointed Regional Vice President at the age of 27, and is the founder of multiple entrepreneurial ventures. He is also the author of the book, The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World (http://www.amazon.com/Young-Professionals-Guide-Working-World/dp/1601632428). Aaron instructed a highly rated student-led course on leadership at UC Berkeley’s Haas Undergraduate School of Business and has a book, The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead, and Rise to the Top, due to be out later this year. Aaron offers advice that helps young professionals build the foundation for a successful career. Visit his blog, http://www.ypedge.com to learn more.

Posted on March 15, 2012, in Commentary, Solid Advice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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