Customer? What Customer?

The next major question for any organisation to try to answer is “Who is my customer?”

This again could seem like a dumb question – but they are all dumb until you try to answer them, right?
For many companies it is simple to define who the customer is – retail markets are straighforward, the customer is the person who comes into the shop and pays money for your services.
In some industries though, it is more complicated, and it is a question that needs answering before you can move to any form of strategy, start looking at marketing or whatever.
This is particularly true of the “third sector”, charities and public sector organisations, who may be commissioned by one body in order to provide a service to another.  For instance I am working with a charity providing advocacy services to adults with learning difficulties in my home town.  Who is their customer?  When I started working with them they were most concerned about the quality of service that they were giving to the people receiving their services, and rightly so.  But their “customer” is the local authority who sets the contracts and pays the bills – and at least as much attention must be given to this relationship as to the relationships with the beneficiaries of the service that they offer.
As another example, what about a department in a larger business?  Their “customer” may not even give them a contract or money at all.  Their customer may be the department next door, their management or even their suppliers!  The “Customer Focus” is just as important for the sucess of the business.
Marketing Departments are another prime candidate, as their customer is easy enough to identify – the company that commissions the work right?  But their customer is also the consumer of the marketing.
Getting this focus right is imperative, and identifying all the  customers of the business is easier said than done.
KDE Ltd (www.kde-ltd.com) can help refine your thinking as an SME, and suggest ways forward to maximise profit, minimise work and stress for you as a business leader.  Give me a call?

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