Customers are people. Treat them as customers and people.
How do you call or refer to the people who buy your goods and services? What descriptive names do you use? What terminology do you use to discuss them?
Your pronoun of choice may include passengers, guests, participants, clients, patients, and a whole host of other words.
However, there is only word that should be used ─ customers.
Here is how the choice of descriptive can alter the way you and your colleagues think about your customers:
Passengers sit in airplane seats eating boring meals and attempting to be entertained by movies on small screens.
Customers are flyers with individual needs, wants, and desires whose travel experiences begin from the time the journey is planned to the time they collect their luggage at their final destination.
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Cargo shippers hand over freight that is then stored and transported in the belly of a plane or the hold of a ship.
Customers are the people shipping or receiving the precious (to them) cargo being carried and transported.
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Hotel guests check in, check out, occasionally dine in house or in room, and might return some day.
Customers are individuals away from home looking for comfort, rest, familiarity, recognition, and a reason to return some day.
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Clients sit in offices and have meetings in conference rooms.
Customers are the people who react to your ideas and appreciate the value you add.
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Patients sit patiently in waiting rooms as they are moved from test to test or room to room.
Customers are people scared about their medical conditions and worried for their futures.
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Participants at a conference have paid for their admission and eagerly wait to hear nuggets of brilliance from the speakers.
Customers are individuals with important personal concerns seeking new insights and experiences to help them achieve personal and professional goals.
Customers are PEOPLE — treat them humanely and with respect, as they most certainly deserve.
Customers are not “the man in seat 17F,” or “the woman in room 839,” or “the couple at table 14.” And most assuredly, to them, they are also not “seat 17F,” or “room 839”, or “table 14.” Yet, how many times a day do your staff refer to your customers this way (and hence THINK about them this way)?
Customers are “the customer in seat 17F,” and “the customer in room 839,’ and “the customers at table 14” and they deserve to be spoken about and thought about in this way by your staff and colleagues.
Think of your customers as CUSTOMERS. As PEOPLE.
And treat them as CUSTOMERS and PEOPLE.
Think of them, and treat them, as CUSTOMERS and PEOPLE with real and individual needs, wants, and desires. Not as account numbers, participants, account holders, clients, passengers, guests, or patients.
Do this and you will have more customers.
Do this and you will have happier customers.
Do this and you will have repeat customers.
Do this, and your happy and repeat customers will help to ensure a better and more stable future for your organization.
It all starts with how you think about, call, and refer to the people who buy your goods and services.
KEY POINT: the choice of descriptive can alter the way you and your colleagues think about your customers.
TAKING ACTION: for the next week, record every descriptive used internally to describe the people who buy your goods and services. In what context are these words used? How do these words reflect the TRUE feelings of your staff towards your customers? How would their thinking change if the word “customer” had been inserted every time another descriptive was used?
For the next week, review every piece of internal and external communication generated. How often are the people who buy your goods and services described as customers? How often are they described as something else? How do these other words reflect the TRUE feelings of the writers and the readers towards your customers? How would their thinking change if the word “customer” had been used every time another descriptive was used?
Go out to your customer points of interaction. What words are your staff and colleagues using IN FRONT OF CUSTOMERS to describe them? Are your customers being called “room 1027” in front of the customer who is in that room? Are your staff saying “the guy on flight 64 wants to move his seat” in front of the customer making this request?
Start an internal movement now to eliminate ALL descriptive names and words used by your organization other than the word CUSTOMER to refer to the people who buy or use your goods and services.
This article is excerpted from my book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.