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Note: This resource is part of our Moving the Bar in Your Career and Your Life, a unique approach to professional development series: Building Enviable Customer Relationships. Click here to see the entire series.

The Problem:

You have very dedicated staff who do their respective jobs well. However, sometimes they get caught up in back office functions, the minutia, and the deadlines and forget that ultimately it’s all about the customer.

The Solution:

1. At every meeting make sure there is an empty seat at the table. This includes planning meetings, meetings with vendors, C-suite meetings, and departmental meetings. Put some representation of your typical customer (or avatar) on that chair. It could be an enlarged photo, an empty coke bottle with a Styrofoam ‘head’, a paper doll, or a bag with a drawing on it. Have fun with it.

2. Make sure this ‘typical customer’ has a name. Circulate through the company who the typical client is. Look at a combination of your top 5 customers and come up with an avatar profile including: a fictitious name, age, gender, income and education levels, family demographics, and psychographics including values, the way he or she prioritizes, and the needs he or she has that your product or service satisfies. If your customer is a B-to-B customer, then add something about the business as well as the usual purchaser in the business. Suppose you gave your ‘typical customer’ avatar the name of Chris.

3. At the meetings, point to the ‘person’ on the empty chair and ask questions such as:

  • What does Chris think about what you’ve proposed?
  • How will this decision impact Chris?
  • What will Chris think of this design or promotion?
  • How does this impact Chris’ relationships with his own customers?
  • What does Chris see on our website that catches his attention and makes him want to read more?
  • Who is talking with Chris that can become a good referral for us?

How else can you ensure that your entire organization focuses on clients all the time?