More Not Your Customer

September 19, 2008

I had some good offline & Twitter responses to my Not Your Customer post a couple weeks back. Some people got was I was saying, some didn’t. To summarize, I was trying to do two things:

  • Point out that ‘internal customer’ is a metaphor, not a true market-based customer relationship. Because of that it sometimes breaks down by diluting focus on working as a team to serve the actual (external paying) customer
  • Rip off Bob Dylan. He’s used a negative structure powerfully a couple times, notably in ‘All I Really Want to Do.’ Each verse is four varied lines of negatives – I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do that – followed by one positive affirmation. The contrast in the Dylan song makes the affirmation powerful. I was shooting for similar power in pointing out that, whatever else you may focus on, if you don’t have the external customer in mind you can quickly go astray

People who worked for large companies seemed to get it. They’ve dealt with cogs deep in the system who believe that, as long as they continue to mesh with the nearest cogs the same way they always have, they are adding value and their job is secure. People who worked for smaller companies didn’t always get it.  Some hadn’t heard the ‘internal customer’ metaphor (one asked if I thought employees should not be allowed to purchase from their own companies). Others, because their companies are small enough that the customer is always close, naturally practice the customer-focused teamwork that I advocate.

That was the intent and I’m glad it sparked some good conversations. Next up: Not Your Job.

Photo by Claudecf


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