Don't Focus on the Customer

Quick Summary: Many customers have customers; understand what your customer’s customer wants.

Abstract:

In many businesses, your product or service may only be a component in the overall product or service that your customer is providing to others.  In these instances, your success is tied directly to your customer’s success.  By focusing on your customer’s customer, you may help your customer be more successful.

The title of this article is sure to raise eyebrows and appears to be totally illogical, especially in the chapter that is titled “Continuously Delight Each Customer.”  The title is only the first part of a concept and intended to peak your interest and help you remember the entire notion, “Don’t focus on the customer; instead, focus on the customer’s customer.  If your customer’s customer is pleased with your product or service, then your customer will be delighted.”  Said another way, focus on making your customer successful with their customers.

In many cases, the reaction to this statement is, “How can we do this? We don’t know anything about our customer’s customer.”  Without knowing the customer’s customer, how can you be sure that your product or service is still meeting their needs?  Will you find out only after your customer stops buying from you?  Also, you will know your capabilities far better than your customer.  You will know what you can do and cannot do.  Understanding the customer’s customer may allow you to suggest to your customer changes that can help them better serve their customers.  The more insight you can develop, the better equipped you will be to respond to your customer.  Change your focus of being successful to focusing on making your customer successful with your product or service.

Learning about your customer’s customer is not hard.  You can ask them.  You can also easily find out about their business.  Are they growing?  Are they a market leader or follower?  Is your customer’s offering competitive with other similar products from competitors?  With some changes, can you help your customer be more competitive?  Do market conditions indicate that there is a likely increase or decrease in your customer’s customer’s business that can impact orders that you will receive in the future?  Can you provide your customer with some insight in what you have learned?  The list goes on and on of information that you can learn and observations that you can make to help your customer and you better understand their customer.  It is highly likely that being one step removed from your customer’s customer will give you the opportunity to uncover issues that your customer may not be aware of.

Do not mask your findings.  Share both good news and bad news.  Your goal should be to help your customer be more responsive to their customers.  Be objective and be sure not to appear to be self-serving.  Strive to become more than a supplier to your customer; become a trusted advisor and a partner with the joint goal of serving their customers better.

 

Article Number : 2.050206   

A Handy Reference Guide for Executives and Managers at All Levels.

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