Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who is The Customer?

Many people don't like the term 'customer service' for good reason. However, this doesn't mean that the principles of 'service excellence' don't apply to how they go about doing their work. Gary Ryan explains how 'service excellence' enables you to exceed expectations no matter what you call your 'customers'.




Many people get hung up on the word ‘customer’. This is the challenge with the concept of ‘customer service’ because many people think that they don't have 'customers'. And maybe they don’t. Maybe they have clients, colleagues, administrators, staff, stakeholders, lawyers, doctors, labourors, community members, students, guests and any other label that you can think about. The issue is not the label; the issue is the ethic behind how you treat people.
Another way of looking at it is to say that 'the customer' is anyone who receives the output of your work. Anyone.
This is why we prefer the term, “service excellence” over “customer service”. Unfortunately many people think that they don't have 'customers' (because they use a different term) so they conclude that service has nothing to do with them. But it has everything to do with them. Everyone is your customer. Everyone.
Copyright Gary Ryan 2011
Research Participant
You know that I can’t stand the word ‘customer’. The people I serve are staff, not customers. I find out what they want and I do my best to exceed their expectations every time. So I wish people would stop saying that I have to be ‘customer’ oriented. I’m staff oriented and that is what is important!

7 comments:

  1. I am of the opposite view Gary......EVERYONE has customers, even if these are merely one's colleagues or fellow staff.

    But more importantly, as you say, it's not the labeling that matters, it's the ethic and philosophy of how you treat people you serve or provide services to.

    Good article, thanks for sharing.

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  2. Steven,

    Hi! Thanks for your comment. Although I'm not sure that our views are opposite. If you think about it if everyone is your customer, then might not the opposite also be true (that everyone has customers)?

    I write these articles with the intent of being 'Conversation Starters' so thanks for engaging in the conversation.

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  3. Hi Gary. I agree with the point of view that everyone has customers. I have come to understand via discussions that when a person is working with or for some other person, it is the responsibility of both parties to add value to their relation by contributing their view points and working together to achieve the desired result. Both parties take on the role of the 'customer' at different stages as one person is always receiving when the other person is giving. This on and off role of providing & receiving service helps one to be better equipped for the next situation whether the person is at the receiving end of a service or is responsible for providing service to others. I believe that the way to better customer service/service excellence is to realize that there is always something new to learn and one must never forget to try to look at the situation at hand from the perspective of the 'customer'. Hope that made sense.

    Thanks for sharing the article.

    Cheers,
    Vinay

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  4. Vinay,
    Your comments make absolute sense and your contribution is very well written thank you. I thoroughly agree with your perspective. Do you have any examples where what you are saying has occured?
    Thanks,
    Gary

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  5. Thanks for asking the question Gary. An example that I can relate to is a business intelligence (BI) project that I worked on. The goal of the project was to create a tool that would help decision makers in the organization make quick business decisions based on the reports generated by the BI tool. I knew how to convert raw data into charts & figures from a technical perspective. The representative of the organization knew all about the business and what charts & figures are required for decision making. The interactions that I and the representative had enabled us to communicate and learn how specific challenges during the project could be tackled by consultation. I learnt a lot about the business and why does the business need such a reporting tool. This helped me develop a more complete tool. When I discussed the merits and limitations from a technical perspective, the representative was more clear on his expectations from the BI tool and shared more specific information about the business which in turn enabled us to maximize the effectiveness of the tool. Finally, not only was a BI tool developed successfully, it also generated some interest within the organization to begin another similar project to resolve other business challenges.

    Hope that helps.

    Thanks,
    Vinay

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  6. Vinay,

    This is a terrific example - and well written too I might add!
    Thanks for sharing it.
    Cheers,
    Gary

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  7. Thanks! Gary. I am glad that I could be a part of the discussion.

    Cheers,
    Vinay

    ReplyDelete