(Time to read this Blog article is about 60 seconds)

Many businesses fail to think about all of their customers.  A quick look under the hood of your vehicle will tell you that the folks who designed and manufactured it didn’t give much thought to the mechanics who have to service and repair it over the next 18 years. The engine components are so tightly jammed in that it’s impossible to access and replace failed parts.  My mechanic told me recently that he had to unbolt the engine of a BMW from the frame and move the whole thing three inches forward, just to replace a $10 hose. Total cost…over $900.

Most businesses define their customers as those people who buy what they sell.  But it will be more useful to define a ‘customer’ as anyone who interacts with or is affected by what you sell in any way.  That includes anyone who…

  1. Produces or creates what you sell.
  2. Purchases it.
  3. Resells it.
  4. Transports or handles it in any way.
  5. Installs or services it.
  6. Operates it.
  7. Uses or consumes it.
  8. Disposes of it.
  9. Is affected in any way by what you do.

When we had a large manufacturing plant on the edge of a residential community in Toronto, we thought of our neighbours as ‘customers’ and made sure that they were not negatively affected in any way by noise, pollution or traffic congestion as a result of our being there.

Years later, as a retailer of ladies fashions, we understood that husbands and children who came to our store were also ‘customers’ so we offered electric massage chairs, a pirate ship play area, free diapers, wipes and cream and a selection of free beverages to keep them occupied and happy.

So, what will you do to identify, truly understand and more effectively serve ALL of your ‘customers’?  First, use the nine-point list above to identify them. Then, get creative as to how you will make their lives easier, safer, less confusing, less stressful, more productive and more enjoyable.

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