Back to the Basics: Your Customers

For the last month we have been discussing change and the fact that although it is causing us anxiety it also creates opportunities for the talented, curious, ambitious and hard-working people in our businesses.

Let’s get our heads out of the clouds and return to the dirt. Let’s get back to basics. What is troubling is that many of us don’t remember what that means. What are the basics?

Let me start at the beginning: it all starts with customers.


Without your customers you have nothing.


How do you think you customers view you? Do you know their perceptions of your business? We use the “Balanced Scorecard” as one of the fundamental tools to help our clients to develop and manage their business. It is also an LOD (Learning On Demand) product in our training business

The Balanced Scorecard, from our perspective, starts with the customer. What are the needs and wants, the expectations that our customers have of us? That is where we start. We use an employee training session as the vehicle, we suggest these programs happen eight times a year and take an hour and a half each. We have all the parts employees or service employees or both together and ask them to make a list of what the customers want.

Don’t interfere, don’t editorialize, and don’t have your thoughts dominate the room – remember EQ here. The leader should always speak last and listen first. Then, after the list is completed you will have similar points on the list. Narrow the list down to a list of unique items.

The following month we have a group of customers come in and we ask them the same questions in front of the same group of employees who made the original list. Don’t interfere with their list. Listen carefully. Make notes and make sure that your customers agree with the list you have created from listening to them.

After this, we have a third meeting where we reconcile the two lists. How similar were they? Which items are the most important? Pick the top five. Then call the customers back and ask if they agree with the top five list. If they do then you can go to the next step. The next step in the Balanced Scorecard for us is Internal Excellence. What do we need to excel at in order to satisfy the customer? This is the first step on the Back to Basics road.

This is just the first portion of what we must do to achieve customers for life.

The time is now.