A large retailer directed that every time the word “customer” appears in their marketing it was to be replaced with “people”. Dehumanizing people is a common characteristic of service organizations. Historical IT organizations like the term “user” for those that come to them for service. In Plant and other inside department service teams can get lax in how we view those that provide for our livelihood. Maybe over time the word “customer” has become too common. Smart organizations serve people. People need relationship.
Celebrations of 100%
The phone call was from the manager of one my largest customers. Usually that call meant some service glitch had occurred. This time it was different. She called to tell me that her group had been doing 100% of their business with us for the last six months. She had not told us. She had just done it. Her team loved it. They loved our people.
Could she come and have a surprise party and celebrate with the team? Her team and my team together? Of course. I love the pictures of that moment. The smiles had taken years of service and listening and adapting. But here they were. These moments are repeatable.
Organizations Are Different
In the university organization relationship development with Athletics, Admissions, Administration, Alumni, and Academics brings big results. A good friend with over twenty years of good success in a private university taught me that cultural specific. People have cultures and ways of grouping themselves. Be attentive. Both at the executive and ordering customer level, this is critical. Universities have their own culture that needs stroked and attended.
In corporate America relationship development can vary greatly. But every organization has the C Suite. CEO, COO, CIO, CTO, CSO, CRO, CMO, and CFO have some commonalities and some differences. Executives look for risk reduction, human resource optimization, cost containment, budget stability and predictability, and revenue growth. Those are common concerns. Yet, ever executive has a focus area. Marketing, finance, sales, information, security, risk, operations, technology, and the Executive Officer each have nuances of interest alongside the commonalities. A smart In Plant studies and meets the needs of the executive organization.
Family companies can differ from stock public owned companies. The dynamics are different. The people act differently and have different priorities. Get specific to your organization.
Industries can differ. An insurance or finance oriented company looks at minute details and tends to attract analytical managers. A retail organization is geared for change and adaptation. Smart departments adapt to the differences evident in the people in the organization.
So How Do You Humanize the Customer?
Working with a university in-plant, my estimate is that they can double and even triple effectiveness and “share of wallet” in existing relationships by tuning into the “voice of the customer”. Too often, we get focused on the differences we have with those that come to us for service. Why not look at the similarities? Why not find the connections we have and commonalities? Humanize your view of the people you serve.
They have a message to deliver to a group and a response they would like. Whether it is a course pack for a law professor or a direct personalized mailer for a sales organization, there is a reason for the communication going out on paper and a response that is wanted. Isn’t that what all of us do all day? We communicate in order to get a response. Focus on what that person is looking to accomplish.
The people you serve have demands and pressures. Sound familiar? The In-Plant is constantly pushed to deadlines. It is the last lap in a long race for any organization or company. The people who we serve are under similar pressures to perform. Relate.
The people you serve have families and lives outside of their work. When working with one marketing manager, it was joy to listen as she shared about her husband and children and community activities. They were different priorities than my life, but most similar in many ways. The relationship built understanding from family to the work place.
Gain Efficiencies on Trust
Steven Covey is known for his premier work on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His son is known for his work on the Speed of Trust. Trust built through relationship can enable great communication between “customer” and “service team”. End to end high speed communication chains in a print service team and customer relationship ensures minimum loss of time and minimum waste in execution.
Enabled service that lives in a humanized relationship with those served provides a value to an organization that is inestimable. The value of those that serve with the maximum vested interest at heart of those they serve as people not “users” cannot be measured in dollars. The people served are empowered at a new level that just is hard to convey. Those people end up bringing double to quadruple the business to the service team. Maybe you can have a 100% party.