It’s a pretty obvious fact. When you are in a personal relationship each party has something to gain when things go well. Each party also has something to lose when it all goes south. We all have relationships with customers but what happens if you are your customer’s customer? Think about it. You provide goods or services to them and they provide something to you. I actually have that kind of relationship with a number of customers and it is interesting that these relationships move to a very different level quickly. That’s why I believe it is a good idea to try and find ways to be your customer’s customer.
For example, one of our customers is a bank. They approached us to do some work for them in the area of internal communications. At the time, we were banking elsewhere but as we started to work with them I began to see why we really ought to be their customer. While we are a small company and they are a much larger institution I could tell that we had a lot in common. We both have a similar approach to service. We are both forward-thinking. We both are very committed to doing the best for our customer. Take all of that and then combine it with a reciprocal relationship and the results are great.
Another example is a company that handles equipment repairs for us. We were a customer of theirs and so we were top of mind when they needed to create some external communications to tell their story to potential clients. I was always pleased with their work but when I got to know them better I appreciated them even more. They are constantly looking to improve their performance. They go for long-term goals instead of short-term gains. They have fun. As I interviewed individuals at all levels of the company I started to hear phrases that we use around our place. Things like; “We need to over-perform for our clients. Do what it takes to make it right. We want our employees to enjoy their work.” I saw their organization from two different perspective, first as a customer and then as a supplier. Both were great views.
I realize these are both service examples but I believe that the idea applies to other situations as well. Do you support a retail establishment that has great products? Is there a restaurant you should consider visiting more often? Could they be your customer?
It doesn’t always work but if you need a product or service maybe you should look through your customer list and see if there is a potential supplier there. When you work with people who have a vested interest in mutual success it makes doing business a whole lot easier not to mention you know they will be there to support you when things get difficult and celebrate with you when times are good. Think about it. Can you be your customer’s customer? Can they be your customer?