The CUSTOMER in the question “Who is the Customer, and what is their Single Most Compelling Reason to Buy Now from You?” may seem obvious, but in many cases, it is not. The CUSTOMER may, in fact, be the end-user of your goods or services or may be buying it for someone else who is the actual user. They may be even more removed from the offering’s day to day use and operation. For example, a purchasing agent may be managing the purchase of a product for a department that is providing the product for a remote set of users. In this very common case, who, really, is THE customer?
A useful definition of the CUSTOMER is to describe them as the person (not a group, but an individual) who feels responsible for the product or service’s ability to meet the intended requirements. In essence, it means the product or service’s intended “fitness for use.” The term “fitness for use” is a term coined by Joseph Juran, one of the first evangelists for quality. In this context, the CUSTOMER makes the judgment about the applicability of the product or service for the end-user, or as the person responsible for the end-user. They evaluate alternatives and decide what alternative is the best to pursue. They may be the decision maker (the WHO as described in the previous article “The WHO in the Question” or may make the recommendation to the “WHO”.
The CUSTOMER is the person that must be “sold” on the relative attributes of the offering and understand why and how it best services the need of the end-user, whether it is them or someone else. As discussed in the article in this series “Don’t Focus on the Customer,” this seemingly troubling statement is the first part of the expanded concept to “Don’t focus on the customer, instead, focus on the customer’s customer. If you satisfy them, the customer will be delighted.” The implication of this statement is that the CUSTOMER must be convinced that the offering will, in fact, meet the end-user’s needs better than any of the available alternatives.
The key activity that you must focus your attention on is informing the CUSTOMER how your offering will help their end-user. Focus on what they want to hear and not what you want to say. Be the safe (low risk) choice that represents the highest likelihood of meeting those needs.