Does the customer really matter?
You hear the phrases customer centricity, customer first, customer focus, and customer experience used a lot … but is the business that’s using those phrases actually looking out for what’s best for the customer … or their consumer?
Wait – what?
Most people tell me that the words customer and consumer are synonymous. They aren’t. In fact, they mean two different things when you approach them from the perspective of a business, a product management team, or a revenue cross-functional team. Two very different things.
My entire life, with the exception of a few short-lived jobs here and there, I’ve spent doing customer service and support for a variety of different companies. Each company though, used the phrases customer and consumer in much the same way … the group of people that buy your products or services.
So, what is a customer? A customer is a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.
And a consumer? A consumer would be defined as a purchaser of goods and services.
Today, I work in a business that most of the company looks at the customers we service as a consumer. They are the people that purchase (or in our case, just use) the services that we provide, and not individuals that use our services that need the love and attention that a customer deserves from a company. That puts me in an interesting spot, because I care about the customer, but have to talk about the consumer … and finding that balance isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
So – does the customer really matter? They do … just not always at the right levels or in the right groups within an organization. We’re slowly moving towards helping our company wrap themselves around the customer experience, the customer, and the overall need to put the customer at the center of our universe. It takes time, and it takes work. In recent months, we brought on a Tier 1 support vendor who is an extension of our business (and not the normal client/vendor relationship). They are helping me shift our business in the right direction.
Every so often, I hear the phrase “our vision,” and I can’t help but wonder if people are truly having a “vision” or are they just regurgitating an adulterated version of someone elses. Does that really work, though? Do people really get anywhere in their career, by simply adulterating and regurgitating someone else’s vision? It needs to stop.
What we need today, tomorrow and forever is rapid, innovative and irreparable disruption in the way we think, the way we act, and the way we engage. Create a vision of your own, change one thing at a time, and then change the world. My team is doing it today … I can’t wait for tomorrow … and we’ll forever change the face of customer service for our organization.
So, let’s ask again – does the customer really matter? Nothing else matters. The customer is the glue to your business. They keep the lights on. They should be the focus of your organization – from product design, development, implementation, marketing, sales AND support. Support your users through each of those cycles, and you’ll be setting your customer up for success … because your customer does matter.
How are you going to change the world today?