Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Who is Really Your Customer? (part 1 of 3)

Story #1  Old People in the Nursery

After the Navy, I began working evenings and weekends at a hardware/garden shop/retail store. Many of the customers that frequented the store were elderly, and after a short while I had many of them asking for me versus other staff members.

This gave me an opportunity to get to know them and their history. I was able to learn a lot just by listening to their stories, and in turn, my sales grew as I built a strong following.

I often got comments from other staff like, “How can you stand dealing with those ‘old people’?  They are so grumpy and it takes too much time to wait on them”.

My reply: “First of all, they are our customer and they deserve to be treated the way you want to be treated. Second, they are elderly, so they are going to be slower than some of our ‘younger’ customers. Third, they probably are grumpy with you because they may not be feeling well, although most of the time they are not grumpy with me. And forth, the amount of sales I am doing indicate that they are a very profitable customer base. Their money is green and they are looking for a place to spend it. Why shouldn’t I serve them?”

Bottom line: During the four years I was at the store this proved to be true. I had repeat business, referrals, etc. It just took a little extra effort and patience to work with everyone in the beginning but ended up producing business and affecting the bottom line in a very positive manner.

sow quickly – reap little

sow patiently – reap a harvest

*     *     *     *     *

Basically, customers fall into two main groups: External and Internal.

External customers include individuals, businesses, business people, and organizations apart from the business.  Essentially, this is the general public which includes suppliers, bankers, governmental bodies, and even competitors.  External customers are the customers of the business.

Internal customers work within the business itself.  These include any position in any department for which a service or product can be provided.

The customer of the business is the general public. It is important to recognize that the “sales reps” are the business’ front line in working with the external customer.

The customer of the sales rep is the business’ customer. As the business’ front line in dealing with the consumer, it is imperative the sales rep understands the needs and expectations of each consumer and be adept at developing a “relationship” (a bond) with the consumer in a timely manner.

The customer of the support staff is the sales rep. Each member of the support staff must understand the needs and expectations of each sales rep and become dedicated to servicing them.  As the sales rep services the consumer, so must the support staff service the sales rep.

The customer of the manager is the support staff and the sales reps – in short; everyone in his department. By servicing the support staff, he services the sales reps.  By servicing the sales reps; he services the consumer.  By servicing the consumer; he services the business.

As manager, it is of paramount importance to understand “and appreciate” that no position or need in the department is more important than any other position or need.

(concept #7)

No position is more important than any other

Without a sales rep to make contact with the consumer, a product or service cannot be offered.  Usually, sales reps are the prima donnas of the business, but consider…  Without a receptionist to answer the phone, the message cannot be relayed.  Without a person to order the pens, the message cannot be written.  Without a person to make the copy, the order cannot be recorded.  Without a person to keep the records, the order cannot be filled.  Without a person to fill the order, the product or service cannot be conveyed.  Without the product or service being conveyed, income cannot be earned.  Without a manager to orchestrate this procedure, profit cannot be made.  Without profit being made, wages cannot be paid.

The good news is — this is not really a problem!!!  Why?  Because if you do not employ any of these people you don’t have a business to worry about anyway.

– excerpt from “The Manager as Engineer of the Work Environment”


March 13, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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