Customer Relations

by Roisin Murray & Wallace Murray

Why it matters to you

The short answer is – you’ll get an easier working life, in which success comes more naturally.

You are likely to meet your customers’ needs more easily and therefore receive fewer complaints. That is likely to increase your job satisfaction and reduce your stress levels. Then you may feel less like changing jobs, which is in itself one of life’s biggest stressors!

Even if you don’t think you have any customers

Maybe you never see the organisation’s customers? You are almost certainly part of an internal customer chain. It works like this: the IT department supplies the product design office with computer equipment. The product design office uses the computers to design widgets. The manufacturing division makes them and the sales team sells them.

The product designers are thus the customers of the IT department. The manufacturing division is the customer of the designers. The sales team is the customer of the manufacturing division. To put it the other way round, the IT department is the supplier for the design office, and so on. So everyone in a organisation has customers. It’s simply that they may be internal rather than external customers.

Both types of customer have needs and expectations. It is just as important to meet the needs of internal customers as it is to meet those of external customers. Meeting those needs will give you better relationships with colleagues in other parts of the business. Positive internal relationships with your internal customers tend to feed through to relationships with external customers. The organisation does better and, usually, the better the organisation does, the better you’ll do.

Easier success

Imagine having a job where you only have to deal with happy, contented – maybe even grateful – people. People who seem to really like dealing with you – and you really enjoy engaging with them. An impossible dream?

Repeat business

What if you could influence the people you deal with, so that more of the time was like this? Your influence is based on the relationship you build with each customer. If this works – if the relationship is one the customer also enjoys – they will come back for more. We all know that repeat or referred sales are easier than cold new ones.

Personal recommendations

Each sale can be an opportunity to build your personal clientele. Success becomes easy when people come looking for you, actively seeking to buy from you.

Maybe repeat sales are unusual in your business. Few people are likely to buy long-distance removals more than once from the same firm, unless it happens to have local branches all over the country. Yet even a single-site removal firm will benefit from excellent customer relations – happy customers are likely to recommend their friends to use the same firm, which is likely to result in increased sales.

Your income may not depend directly on sales, but think about the following quotation.

There are only two levels of staff in a firm. Level one is the sales people. Level two is all the others, whose job is to support level one.

There are no other levels.

Jan Carlzon, CEO Scandinavian Airways

Jan Carlzon made it clear that every job has a clear focus on the end result for the business. That puts cleaning the office on a par with the CEO’s tasks. The focus he placed on end results helped turn his organisation around.

Better motivation

Do you just come to work for the money? So long as you have enough to survive on, money is unlikely to be your ultimate motivator.

Different people get a buzz out of different things. You might find, for example, that you get satisfaction from being seen as competent, being sought out for advice, or from achieving results, maybe ‘winning’. Think about the emotional high you get when someone genuinely thanks you for being helpful. Remember the sense of achievement that comes from solving a problem for someone else. You may really get on with people – and isn’t it great if they actually want to talk to you?

For many people, an ideal job provides not just good money, but a mixture of

  • Emotional highs
  • Sense of achievement
  • Recognition of contribution
  • Autonomy or freedom to decide about some aspects of your work.

Excellent customer relations are a good way to get rewards such as these.

Less stress

Good customer relations can help you avoid some of the downsides of going to work. For a start, here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Less hassle because there are fewer complaints to deal with
  • Less stress from arguments or time wasted sorting out problems
  • More friendly, willing customers; less indifference
  • More tolerance from customers if a mistake is made.
Key concept

Build better customer relations for a better working life.

All this leads to

  • A nicer job all round, so you can take real pleasure in going to work.

This is true whether your customers are colleagues or external clients.