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Thinking about customers

 1 April 2019     Donald Cooper 

Are you thinking about all your customers? Many businesses fail to think about them. A quick look under the hood of your vehicle will tell you that the folks who designed and manufactured it didn’t give much thought to the mechanics who must service and repair it over the next 18 years. The engine components are so tightly jammed in that it’s impossible to access and replace failed parts.

My mechanic told me recently he had to unbolt the engine of a BMW from the frame and move the whole thing three inches forward just to replace a $10 hose. The total cost was over $900.

Most businesses define their customers as those people who buy what they sell. But it will be more useful to define a ‘customer’ as anyone who interacts with or is affected by what you sell in any way.

That includes anyone who produces or creates what you sell; purchases it; resells it; transports or handles it in any way; installs or services it; operates it; uses or consumes it or disposes of it. A customer is anyone who is affected in any way by what you do.

Years ago, when my family operated a large sporting equipment manufacturing plant on the edge of a residential community in Toronto, we thought of our neighbours as ‘customers’. We did everything possible to make sure they were not negatively affected in any way by noise, pollution or traffic congestion as a result of our being there.

Later, as a retailer of ladies’ fashion – Alive & Well – we understood the husbands and children who came to our store were also ‘customers’ so we offered them electric massage chairs; a pirate ship play area; free diapers, wipes and cream; and, a selection of free beverages to keep them occupied and happy.

So, what will you do to identify, truly understand and more effectively serve ALL your customers? First, use the list above to identify them. Then, get creative as to how you will make their lives easier, safer, less confusing, less stressful, more productive and more enjoyable.

Something else to think about:

Or, we could make one really big omelette. In Canada 450,000 eggs are thrown out every day.

World’s most livable cities. According to Mercer’s Most Livable City survey, Vienna, Austria is the world’s best city to live in for the ninth year in a row. Zurich is number two with Munich and Auckland, New Zealand tied for third place. Vancouver is number five with Toronto coming in at number 16. San Francisco was the highest-ranking in the U.S. at number 30.

Singapore was Asia’s highest-ranked destination at 25 and Dubai was the highest-ranked city in the Middle East at 74. Montevideo, Uruguay took the highest spot in South America at 77. Baghdad retained its position as the lowest ranked city on the list of 231 cities.

Big Maintenance. The cost of an oil change for the French-made Bugatti Veyron sports car is US$21,000. How can that be? It takes 27 hours of labor to access the drain plugs, replace the oil and oil filter. A set of four tires is $40,000 – and they must be replaced every 4,000 kilometres. The car itself costs $2.3 million. Just 450 were produced. All of them sold.

The Smart Fridge. A new refrigerator from Samsung, the South Korean major appliance and electronics giant, features a touchscreen on the door that will show the user suggested recipes based on what’s inside at the time.


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This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.


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