Everyone Has Customers

Matt Michel
Contributing Writer
Service Roundtable

We all know who the customer is, right? You know whom I’m talking about… the CUSTOMER. The CUSTOMER is the person we serve. The CUSTOMER gives the company money.

But there are other customers than the CUSTOMER. Everyone in a company serves someone else. Everyone has customers whether they ever talk to the CUSTOMER or not.

The technician, for example, is the customer of the dispatcher. The technician is an internal customer. In order for the tech to do a good job serving the CUSTOMER, the dispatcher must do a good job serving him. If the dispatcher references the CUSTOMER’s records and notes a comment or two that will help the technician perform better, he’s serving his customer (the tech) better when he passes them along…

Dispatcher: We’ve got a “no-cool” call at 120 Maple. The customer’s name is Mary Smith. Joe gave them a tune-up this spring. No service agreement. You did a demand service call for a bad thermocouple last fall. Oh, and she’s got a little dog named Fluffy. What’s your 20? Over.

Technician: I’m heading east on Arbor Way. Over.

Dispatcher: Looking at the map, you can shave a few minutes if you take a left at…

Well, you get the idea. Now the technician can arrive at the home few minutes faster and greet Mrs. Smith as though he remembers her. She may or may not remember him, but will be impressed that he remembers her. He can also bring a dog biscuit for Fluffy.

Those seemingly insignificant small touches stand huge in the CUSTOMER’s eyes. They send a message that she’s important to your company, possibly leading to the purchase of a service agreement and the more formalized relationship it brings with your company.

Yet, if the dispatcher merely gave the tech the address, the opportunity could have been lost. For the technician to perform, he needed the dispatcher to see him as an internal customer.

Once the job has been performed, the bookkeeper becomes the customer of the technician. To serve his internal customer well, the technician must fill-in the paperwork completely and accurately.

The bookkeeper needs accurate information so he can load the data, including notes, into the computer system where his customer, the dispatcher, can access it.

Does this sound like a loop? You bet. It is a loop. Each of us is the customer of others in our companies and each of us also serves others in our companies. We are like the links of a chain intertwined and intertwined again.

When each of us sees everyone who uses the output of our work product as a customer and serves them well, the service company operates on all cylinders. It operates more smoothly, coughs and sputters less, seldom backfires, and moves quicker than a competitor trying to get by with a broken plug wire or two.

Think about the internal customers you serve. Ask them how you could serve them better. Tell those who serve you what they could do to make your job a little easier. If everyone starts treating everyone else like customers, the result will inevitably show up with the CUSTOMER. To the CUSTOMER, your company will seem different, friendlier, more caring, more efficient, and generally superior to your competitors.

Even if we do not serve the CUSTOMER, we serve customers. If, as individuals, we maximize our customer service, then as a company we will stand apart for our CUSTOMER service. Everyone has customers. Who are yours?

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