The Eastern Way – Fundamental #9: Focus on the Customer
This week’s fundamental was written by Steven Choka. Steven has been with Eastern Funding for over 5 years and now works at our Specialty Vehicle division as a Credit Manager.
CUSTOMER (kuhs-tuh-mer) noun
1. a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron.
2. Informal. a person one has to deal with: a tough customer; a cool customer.
Dictionary.com defines a customer as a person who purchases goods or services from another; a buyer or patron. We all should be fully aware that our customers, in the traditional sense of the definition, are the “Makers” on our loan documents and the vendors who sell them equipment and/or services. When the credit apps and sales orders stop coming in, we are all in trouble. While we are all very familiar with this concept of an “external customer” and how it applies to our respective jobs, broadening our concept of who a customer is can strengthen our relationships within the company and, in turn, strengthen the company itself.
Let’s focus on the informal definition of customer, which is “a person one has to deal with.” At multiple points during your day, you will have to interact with your coworkers to accomplish the goals set forth in your job description. These are your “internal customers.” Every person that you deal with is a customer, whether you are sending a deal to Docs, requesting a payoff, transferring a call or requesting vacation time. Approaching your customer with respect and kindness will foster a similar response.
Conversely, when you are approached by a customer, smile, listen intently to their request, identify their need and strive to fulfill that need. Keep in mind that we are all working to accomplish the same goal of improving our company. And just as an external customer can spread bad press about us, having a poor attitude with your internal customers can have the same effect. People are 77% more likely to spread bad press than good (I just made that up but you get the point). Checking your ego at the door, forgetting old drama and focusing on the company’s goal will help you to keep a good attitude. Even something as mundane as opening the elevator door for a rushing coworker or cleaning your old food out of the fridge is an interaction with a customer. We spend more time with our coworkers than our actual families, so let’s take care of each other.
A good friend of mine launched an internet customer service company called Assistly, which was eventually acquired by Salesforce.com and morphed into Desk.com. They provide services in a concept similar to Ruby. Desk.com’s definition of customer service is “all interaction with a customer at the time of sale and thereafter.” The most important message here is that customer service never ends. Whether we are dealing with internal or external customers, providing marquee service is paramount in any business. An unhappy customer is the beginning of a lost customer.
Thanks for your time and have a successful week.
Up next week is Ana Lage, who will elaborate on Fundamental #10: Be Proactive.