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Who's the Customer?

This is one of those, "Jar-Your-Reality" type articles. It comes as a result of a recent conversation with a client. The conversation revealed a specific mind set that is held by many in the business world and the public at-large. That mind set relates to a unilateral view of whom the customer actually is.

To illustrate this mind set at work, let's focus on the following situation: You go to purchase a vehicle at your local car dealership, discuss with the car salesperson a purchase of a vehicle, sign the papers on the deal and put down cash to finish and seal the transaction. You drive off the car lot satisfied that you made a good deal. The people who were involved in this situation are you and the car salesperson, who represents the car dealership.

Ponder the following. The question is, "Who is the customer?" Please take the time to think about this.

If you have the typical response of most people, your response is that the customer is obviously you. What most people with this mind set fail to realise is that although you are the one purchasing the car with your money, the salesperson is purchasing your money with his car.

Another way of saying this is one person in the deal purchases products or services with cash equivalents and the other person in the deal purchases cash equivalents with products or services.

It doesn't matter whether the person is purchasing with cash equivalents, products or services. Anyone purchasing anything is a customer.

(Are we going into brain overload yet?)

If you try to cut deals with the most typical mind set, you fail to realise that the person you are dealing with is as much a customer to you as you are to them. Remember, all deals are equitable if worked right. You have to provide to the person you're dealing with "value" enough for them to want to exchange what they have for want you have.
Hint: In "Seven Habits" terms - Understanding this is what starts to make deals "win-win" situations.

Things to Consider: Next time you are dealing with another individual or group, cutting a deal, place yourself into the mind set that they are your customer even though you might be the one providing the cash element of the deal. Ask yourself the following question, "Is what I'm offering to the other party equitable enough for them to want to be my customer?"

In addition, if you consider that within any company business that has multiple parties involved; those people within the company itself could be considered internal customers. Internal customers would include your boss, your co-workers and subordinates. Included in this are people and other departments. Those people outside the company could be considered external customers.

Lastly, when you transcend the cash element of any agreement you realise everybody in the deal is a customer.