Who Is Your Customer?

 By Marjorie R. Johnson LCSW, PCC  

Business owners and leaders want to grow their business. To get more business we need more customers, right? The question is: who is your customer?

Some experts say we need to identify our ideal customer and market to that consumer. Others say a business should serve a variety of customers by offering a wider range of products. Still others define customers more specifically, including both internal customers (those working in the company) and external customers (those purchasing, or vendors of the company).

But what if we were to broaden the definition of “customer” still further to include everyone and anyone with whom we come into contact throughout the day? How might approaching everyone we meet – from the barista to the bus or Uber driver – as a customer affect our business?

I‘m reminded of the Ghost of Christmas Present (in Scrooge, the 1970 Albert Finney version). He told Scrooge,”Mankind should be our business.” The fact is, we never know when or where our next customer is coming from. We never know how a kind word or hasty critical remark will spread and cost us potential business. If we are respectful, polite, and mindfully present to all people, no matter their role, whether on company time or off, it’s far more likely that we will attract and keep customers. When we treat people with this kind of dignity and warmth, they are naturally attracted to us and open to our business. When we listen with attention, more customers pay attention to us. People are naturally drawn to work with those they like and respect. As we practice this behavior all day every day, civility and compassion becomes a habit – not something we drop at the close of business.

So, on which “customer” do you most need to practice? Is it your employee with whom you’ve become frustrated, or the peer on whom your department depends but whose consistency and dependability you take for granted? Is it the faithful customer who you know will always be your client so you no longer strive to “wow” them? Is it your family member or best friend who is supportive, loving, and always has your back? When did you last give a heartfelt “thank you”?

Exemplary customer service is something that every person deserves by their humanity. Our commitment to treat others to the best of our ability is what makes exemplary service possible. How would your customer base grow if everyone in your company treated all “customers” that way? It’s a worthwhile experiment!

Marjorie Johnson, LCSW, PCC is President of Ascend Consulting, Inc., an executive coaching and counseling firm.