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Putting A “Face” To Our Customers

by David Brock on December 27th, 2011

As sales people, we work with customers every day.  We see them, we’re in their offices, we talk to them.  They’re very real (sometimes too real) to us.  Customers–each of them—are very important to us.  Sometimes, it’s frustrating, people in our companies don’t seem to be as customer focused as we are.

Many of the people we work with aren’t as sensitive to customers as we are.  Part of it is they are busy doing their jobs, part of it may be they may not understand how what they do impacts the customer experience, part of it is simply that the customer is probably an abstract concept to them.

We talk about customers in our organizations all the time, but we refer to them as faceless entities, “General Motors,” “Bank Of America,” “IBM,” “Verizon,” or Company XYZ.  It’s hard for us to relate to an entity, but that’s how all of us tend to talk about customers.  These are entities without a personality.  We never talk about Bill, Sue, Joe, Lauren, Amir, or Deborah.  People within our companies don’t know how Robin is using our products and why they are important to her.  Or how the results produced through our services bailed Jim out, making him a hero to his customers.

It’s magic how people’s attitudes toward the customer change when they can put a face to the customer.  When the customer is transformed from an account or an entity to a real live human being, it’s hard not to be concerned with the customer.  When you know who the customer–the individual—is, what she looks like, what he’s responsible for, how our products help her do her job, the relationship changes.  It’s not a faceless entity, but an individual trying to do his or her job, trying to achieve their goals, trying to reach their dreams–and they need our products to do this.

Walk into a truly customer centric company and you see the “faces” of customers everywhere.  Their pictures and stories are in the halls, conference rooms are named after customers (individuals not entities), customers are invited to participate in meetings, there always seems to be a customer visiting and talking to people in the company.

In reviews and meetings, they talk about customers as people.  Rather than saying “we saw this when we visited XYZ Corp,”  customer centric companies say “Jill at XYZ Corp has a problem doing this, I’ve seen Dean at ABC, and Yuegang at DEF have the same issues….”  When we make decisions, we know the impact on Robert, Kelly, and Juan.

Want to be more customer focused?  Then put a face to your customers.  Rather than talking about corporations and entities, talk about people.  Celebrate the customer with pictures and stories in your halls and conference rooms, invite them to visit you.  Talk about them in your meetings.  You’ll be amazed at how attitudes change.

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  1. David Olson permalink

    Hi David,

    Great post and so true as always. It is easier for customer facing folks like sellers to humanize customers. Equally easy for those that never meet anyone to de-humanize them just as you describe. I agree that simply refering to them by name will help.

    Happy New Year! Cheers, Dave

    • David, great to hear from you! Thanks so much for the comment and contributing to the discussion! Best wishes for the New Year!

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