Your Customers And Your People – 7 Ways To Make A Connection!


Share on LinkedIn

Do all your people know what your business does? Do they know who your customers are, why they buy from you, and the impact your products and services have on them?

I’m not talking about your senior people or your sales and marketing people, I’m talking about your production people, your back office staff, and your juniors!

It never fails to surprise me how many businesses don’t actually engage their employees in understanding the contribution they’re actually making to others – they then often grumble that their people ‘aren’t bothered’!

Leaders often say to me that the want ‘committed’ people and I say I agree – a key role of leaders is to give something for people to be committed to! It’s not about getting everyone to be able to recite the cash flow forecast backwards, or, heaven forbid, reciting the ‘mission statement’ word for word, in a  meaningless way  - Winning businesses ‘engage’ their people and get commitment to something ‘tangible’! One of those ‘tangible’ things is your customers!

I remember some years ago, an MD of a client whose business manufactured a small component that went into another component that went in to televisions. One day, he got chatting to some of his production guys, and it was clear they knew nothing about where their products actually ended up! The next day the MD walked into the company canteen with a big branded TV and put it on the counter! As his guys stared at him and wondered what on earth was going on, he explained that in there was one of the components they made! Many of them were amazed!

The following Monday he got a knock on his door and in came one of his production guys “I took my wife into town on Saturday to show her our TV’s in the Victoria Centre!” he said beaming, “She was very impressed!” Turns out he had taken her into an electrical retailers and pointed out the products that their components were in! That’s what this stuff is all about!

It’s not always that easy – I was once working with a large professional services organisation in Oxfordshire, where we’re running workshops to help look at how they could maximise relationships and opportunities, and in particular could cross sell and introduce clients to other departments and services. One guy very grudgingly said “This is pointless!” He pointed across the desk to a colleague and said “How can I sell him to my clients – I’ve been here 15 years, he works in the office just down the corridor from me and know nothing about what he does!”

Naively, I said, over those 15 years, couldn’t you have just asked him? “It’s not that easy” he said. “Why not?” I asked. “I’ve been busy!” came the reply. Sometimes you have to ‘push people’ to get to know what you do!

So, whether it’s because people don’t get the right information or maybe don’t go looking for the right information,  a challenge for many business leaders is to ‘educate’ and ‘engage’ their people. How?

Well, here are 7 ideas to consider….
1. Get them Out There!

Organise for your internal staff to go out and visit customers – not necessarily a huge coach trip, but plan one a week for the year. Perhaps they could accompany your sales people (or you?)

come on in2. Get Your Customers In!

Invite customers to your premises and introduce them to your people. It’s scary how many businesses have customers visit, and all they see is the boardroom or sales person’s office! Prepare your people before hand, tell them who the visitors are get them to meet them!

3. Case Studies

We all see businesses use case studies for marketing which is great, but why not do some for your internal staff – pictures, quotes, video them on your iPhone – they don’t have to be ‘all singing, all dancing” – use them to educate and engage your people.

4. A Question Of Customers!

Put the kettle on, sit everyone down and have a quiz to test your people’s knowledge. Do it in a fun interesting way that helps to get them to understand what you’re products and services do and who they do it for. Get people to work in teams to name your biggest customers, longest serving customers, get them to guess the logo’s, name the product  and service – use your imagination, make it fun, and don’t worry if the answers are ‘obvious’ – they might not be obvious to everyone else!

5. Adopt A Customer!

One client of mine gave each production team member a customer that they would ‘adopt’ – they drew them out of a hat and a visit was arranged to visit that customer with the account manager. It didn’t end there – They established a reporting mechanism that meant that each account manager had to keep the appropriate production team member informed of any news, progress and changes to do with that customer. Guess what? They were constantly asking for news and updates every time they saw the account manager!

6. Customer News Report!

One client of mine has given their junior team members the responsibility of producing a very simple monthly newsletter that keeps everyone in the business informed specifically about what customers are up to, what they’re saying about them as a business (good and bad!) and successes in winning new business and repeat business. They have to collect the information from the sales teams, websites, social media and newspapers.

These are just examples. Your challenge is to work out what is best for you and your people – why not ask them?

Hey this is ‘Dramatically Different’ stuff!


7. Watch This….

This video below prompted me to write this article – it’s a touching demonstration of how this actually works and involves a visit to the Ivory Coast’s cocoa bean producers. There’s a sadness to it too, in terms of the ‘economics’ of it, but it’s well worth a watch!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here