Understanding your Customers, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. DennisHow many different types of customers do you have? The way I see it, the credit department has at least three customers:  (1) The Sales Department, (2) their Company’s Senior Management, and (3) The Customer.  Business gurus may differ in opinions and approaches to customer focus and customer orientation, but these truths about customers are timeless:

  • Customers have choices.
  • Customers have expectations.
  • Customers have influence.
  • When your customer has a request or a problem, they expect your response to be timely.
  • Customers expect to interact with knowledgeable and professional credit team members, and that the information they receive will be accurate and helpful.

Do you know what your Customers want?  Do you provide everything they need?  Can you provide better or faster service to your internal customers [meaning to Sales and Senior Management]?  If so, when will you start doing so?  And is there any reason you cannot start today?

As always, I welcome your feedback as well as your questions, comments and constructive criticism.

Michael is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (www.encyclopediaofcredit.com), a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals.  He is a consultant, and the author of “Credit and Collection Forms and Procedures Manual” as well as a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events.  He can be contacted at 949-584-9685.

One Reply to “Understanding your Customers, by Michael C. Dennis”

  1. Michael,

    While it is perhaps convenient and quaint to group Sales and Management as another “form” of a customer, I view them as branches of the same company tree supporting the growth of the whole. Sales are coworkers / team members and management provides the support and infrastructure necessary for both Sales and Credit to do their job. We support and assist each other internally but we all service the customer – – defined as the entity that pays the bills.

    Our job is to exceed the expectations of the customer by choosing to work and support our team members to that end because the customer has choices. If we choose to be on the company team, we really have no choice but to act in the best interests of the customer. We may have expectations of assistance and cooperation levels; but again, for the common good of servicing the customer.

    While it is really a separate topic, I would say that if is not uncommon for Sales, Management and Credit to think the customer has more influence than they really do. Making the relationship as fair and mutually beneficial as possible by accurating measuring that influence is the fine line that must be found. Quite often, the supplier has more influence (read leverage) but is fearful of exerting it and errs on the side of weakness in the face of any hint of customer unhapiness, justified or not.

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