Your Most Important Customers

With courtesy from

Who should you pay the most attention to in your organisation?

A) The guy or girl who makes a purchase of your product or service.

B) The shareholders of your firm, watching over its profit margins with eagle eyes.

C) The sales assistant working hard to seal that transaction.

D) The CEO of the company, issuing orders and barking edicts to ensure everything is in order.

E) The storeman, ensuring that the goods are delivered on time.

F) The finance manager, helping to keep track of expenses and revenue for the organisation.

Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, most of us would probably mouth off the most politically correct term, ie A), the actual paying customer himself or perhaps B), the shareholders providing much-needed capital injection. After all, without their cash, the rest could call it quits, pack their bags and go home.

The truth however isn't as straightforward as it seems. Often, C) to F), ie one's colleagues, bosses, and direct reports, play a critical role in the execution of any strategy. Without their belief, support, and enthusiasm, the best laid plans of mice and men WILL go awry.

Getting internal buy-in is one of the most important tasks in management and leadership. Traditionally, those in higher positions of power have an easier task than those occupying the lower rungs of the corporate ladder. However, this needn't always be the case - one can exert positive influence through one's own knowledge, networks, and areas of specialisation.

In this day and age where social media channels and digital platforms provide instant ideas at the click of a mouse, the most difficult task isn't in thinking about what to do. Understanding customers, reaching them through superior audience analytics, and pinpointing their likes and dislikes is now run-of-the-mill. Almost everybody would have read a Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Mitch Joel or Clay Shirky book.

Rather, the greatest impetus should lie in getting the people involved in the actual jobs of delivering value to the customer (and shareholder) to do so, while being centrally aligned to corporate goals and ideals. Without the buy-in, support, and more often than not, friendship of internal customers, the greatest strategies will come to nought.

PS - Check out this brilliant internal customer mapping tool from Johnson Controls which is available free:

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