Internal and External Customers

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There are two types of customers, internal and external. By nature, we’ve typically been led to believe that the most important customers are the ones that walk through our doors and purchase our products. In reality, the most important customers we encounter by far are the internal ones we come into contact with on a daily basis: Our co-workers. With external customers, we do everything we can to treat them in a way so as to gain their trust and ultimately their repeat business.

If I’m working with someone on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis and they’re not “buying what I’m selling,” it’s going to be an uphill battle. However, if I am trustworthy and therefore, worthy of their “repeat business,” the entire culture and organization will flourish beyond belief.

If we take care of each other, the bottom-line will take care of itself.

Actions toward our Internal Customers include:

*Serving over Self

*Humility over Pride

*Affirmation over Accusation

*Culture over Complaints

*Celebration over Competition

*Contentment over Comparisons

*Environments over Excuses

*Security over Insecurity

*Instead of talking about them, do something for them.

*Doing for one each day what you wish you could do for the world.

*Consistent investments in those closest to us.

*Talking positive about them to other co-workers.

*Praising in public, correcting in private.

*Seeing your co-workers as your personal mission field.

*Asking questions and extending empathy first.

*Getting them what they need—whether it’s a purchase order or encouragement.

When the focus is primarily on the external customer, growth will be capped and you’ll bump up against the ceiling. The way to burst through the ceiling and into the world of endless potential is to focus more on the internal customer. If you tap into the potential for growth within the internal customer, you’re tapping into a wellspring of potential talent and knowledge necessary to take things to another level.

It takes a secure person to be able to focus on the internal customer and tap into the team’s true potential. As we grow the people around us, our external customer base will also grow and will be much better served as well.

Prioritizing the internal customer can be a scary thing but is a necessary concept to build long term sustainability. The fear is if I shift my focus on the internal customer, I’ll lose the external customer. The exact opposite is true. It takes a lot of time to develop and grow the internal customer. This can only happen when it’s rooted in trust.

When trust is established, look out—there’s limitless potential at that point. Trust is the tipping point. Look at it this way: Internal is the Root—External is the Fruit. Internal Customers create the culture; External Customers experience the culture.

Focusing first on the internal customer will ultimately develop a well-rounded team instead of a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded individual will cap potential, but a well-rounded team creates limitless potential.

 

Bruce Hamsher