YKK Stories

2019-02-25 Issue 88 – Fundamental Behavior 8 – Make customers a priority

February 25, 2019
Author: YKK
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Who is a customer? I have always been fascinated by this question and the overall concept of customer. To me, it is really a philosophical question and a matter of perspective that is hard to conceptually define. While Merriam-Webster dictionary defines customer as “a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or organization,” to me this is a shortsighted view. Whether we realize it or not, everyone we come into contact with on a day-to-day basis can be categorized as a customer.

Another fascinating aspect of customers is why do consumers become so fiercely loyal to certain products or brands? For example, are you an Apple or Android user? Do you prefer Coca-Cola or Pepsi? What is your favorite footwear, Nike or Adidas? When you ship a package, do you prefer UPS or FedEx? History is full of these product comparisons battles, but what is it that ultimately drives that customer loyalty? In my opinion, it comes down to how these companies treat you and make you feel as a valuable customer and consumer.

One of my favorite stories about outstanding customer service and making consumers feel like the #1 priority is about Nordstrom. Nordstrom is known for its exceptional customer service and no haggle return policies. As the story goes, a customer brought a pair of shoes into Nordstrom to return. The customer could not find their receipt and was really unsure when they purchased the shoes. The sales representative scanned the product and then asked the customer to hold on for a minute as they disappeared into the back room. After several minutes the representative reappeared and profusely apologized for the delay. The representative went on to explain that Nordstrom does not carry the shoes that the customer was trying to return and he was searching the internet to figure out how much to refund the customer. WOW, talk about making the customer a priority and making them feel special! While this is not a sustainable business model for most companies, it does exemplify an organization’s policy to place the customer as #1.

We all have a customer (internally or externally) counting on us. In your daily activities, I challenge each of you to think about this question: “Who is your customer?” In other words, we all have someone who is looking and counting on us to treat them as a priority.

The bottom line is companies that are successful and have a fiercely loyal customer base are those that show in their actions that “customers” are the priority.

Chris Carroll
Vice President, Human Resources
YKK (U.S.A.) Inc.