chapter  1
19 Pages

First, know yourself

Starting a new job, even one in a department or organization you have been working for some time, teaches you that you have a lot to learn about both the job and the organization or department. The new position and the perspective it provides usually changes the familiar. You soon see that the role is defined as much by the context as it is by the functions you are required to perform. Changing into someone who is ‘customer facing’ can be like taking

on a new job. Helping a department to do this may change it into a new department. Imagine what it can do to a whole company! This chapter covers some of the fundamentals. To meet customer

needs you will certainly have to develop a much greater understanding of your customers. You will also have to gain a greater insight into how you and your organization do and see things. The simple message here is:

So as you learn about your customers you must also strive to learn

There are a number of ways of looking at customers but here is a simple outline we can use to describe what a customer is. A customer is an individual or group of individuals to whom you

supply one or more products or services. You may receive goods or services in return or be paid or compensated for this provision through a third party who may also be your customer. These exchanges happen in a number of ways and can form a series of links in a chain which joins with other chains and drives not only organizations but industries and economies. In purely economic terms each transaction must contain sufficient

benefits to each party for the exchange to take place and be sustainable. It needs to be at a price which is acceptable to the customer and which provides you, the supplier, with sufficient rewards (or profits) to induce you to continue with the enterprise. In the non-profit, or voluntary sectors, and in other sectors such as public services and internal markets, profit may not be definable in monetary terms. However, there must still be a satisfactory balance of benefits for both parties. This will be explored further in following chapters, but you should

also consider the following here: You are a customer inside your organization – As the definition sug-

gests, you are a customer within your own organization. You receive goods and services from other departments and individuals and these transactions form part of the internal customer chain. You need to consider how good your experience as a customer is. Is the exchange a fair one and, if it is not, who is paying the higher price and why? What does your experience as an internal customer tell you about how you serve your own internal customers and what can you learn that will help you when you think of external customers?