AUSTIN, TEX. – Business is all about relationships and relationships have been one of the core messages circulating around Dell World 2015 this week.
Success stories on how Dell has worked with large businesses globally to small business such as the New Belgium Brewery, who rave on how a partnership with Dell has helped their business achieve “future ready” operations, sales, marketing, and all aspects of running a successful operation.
What is the critical business mistake Michael Dell continues to make? Those who have attended any of business marketing workshops across Canada and the United States know I’m not a fan of the word “customer”. Customers are a swear word when working with my company Ulistic and there is good reason why this is so.
What is a customer? A customer is transactional. Given the message communicated over-and-over throughout Dell World, Dell is far from a transactional business. Sure, some businesses will visit dell.com and buy one or two PCs annually. However, there are countless others who invest a higher percentage of their corporate revenues back into technology and that technology happens to be Dell.
What we have found when working with managed IT service providers is that those who make this simple vocabulary adjustment experience a remarkable domino effect throughout the entire business. Relationships with clients mature, investments are made on both sides towards success, staff members take complete ownership of challenges and issues, and tolerance levels on all sides of the business relationship go up.
Adopting a client vs. customer mindset empowers staff from the C levels down to the techs on the street.
Carl Fransen, a Dell partner in Calgary, puts it this way, “As someone that sells his stuff to other companies, I would prefer to be referred to as a partner.” Partner/Client, is there a difference? Isn’t a client relationship truly a partner relationship? Fransen’s approach of a true partnership allows CTECH to invest in ensuring his client base has the right technology, and for CTECH, that proven technology is a complete end-to-end Dell solution. CTECH and Fransen take the partner together approach and serve their joint clients.
The same approach is understood for a leading managed service company in Dell’s backdoor. Matt Miller, VP Business Development for Austin’s award winning managed IT services company, IT Freedom, puts it this way. “I prefer clients for the same reason.” Miller also understands why Michael Dell may elect to standardize on the word customer versus facing scrutiny from the channel and their direct clientele.
Here is how we sum it up at Ulistic. Customers go to Wal-Mart. If milk is 10 cents a gallon cheaper somewhere else, customers will drive 10 miles to save 10 cents, even though it costs them $3.00 extra in gas to save 10 cents. Now ask yourself this question, is your attorney or CPA in a customer relationship with you? Of course not, they are working with you to ensure your business is successful, this is the cornerstone of the client relationship: Success.
I am sure Dell wants all of his clients to be successful. After all, many partners have shared their thanks to Dell during the PartnerDirect meetings on how their relationship with Dell has allowed them to build a highly successful business. Perhaps Miller is correct. Dell is taking the safer path and electing to use a general term, however, that general term should be “client” and I believe this is what Dell means.
Stuart Crawford is the President of Ulistic. Crawford wants to know your thoughts on the term “customer”. Do you want customers or clients? Drop him a line at [email protected] or you can call him directly at 716.799.1999 to discuss.