The "Internal" Customers

"Until now, I never really understood what we were selling."

That comment came from a senior manager working in the financial department at a building product manufacturer. Chusid Associates had just finished design and production of a new catalog for the company, a catalog that focused on positioning the firm instead of just listing products.

The manager explained, "I have been with the company for decades. I know every client we have, can tell you to the nickel what each contract was worth and how many pieces we delivered. But until I saw the new brochure you created, I never understood what what business we were really in or why our clients came to us."

Her comments reminds me that every company has both external and internal customers. The external cutomers -- including contractors, dealers, and consumers -- may make the purchases. But the internal customers -- staff, sales reps, suppliers, bankers, and other stakeholders -- also have to "buy the goods", They have to understand the company's mission and the value it brings to customers in order to know how their contribution fits into the whole.

Sure, the financial manager may spend most of her days poring over charts of accounts, but at night she needs to go home feeling good about the company and its image.