Words are wonderful. They convey so many meanings, particularly when you analyze seemingly comparable words in different languages.
Take the word customer. In Webster’s New World Dictionary, customer is defined as “a person who buys, especially one who buys from or patronizes an establishment regularly.” The root of customer, not surprisingly, is the word custom, or “a usual practice or habitual way of behaving; habit.”
I like the Japanese definition for customer I heard at a business intelligence conference much better. According to the keynote speaker, the word for customer in Japanese, okyakusama, translates as “honored guest.”
How does your current array of technology vendors treat you? As a “habit” who buys regularly from them? Or as an “honored guest” in whose well-being they are keenly interested?
Before you answer that question, here’s another.
How do you?or more precisely, how does the technology infrastructure of your company?treat customers, partners and employees? Is it optimized to treat them as habits? Or is it built on the pillars of okyakusama? If it’s the latter, then it’s an infrastructure from the data center to the edges of the network that maximizes every customer interaction.
In the complex world of the global economy, every company is a buyer and a seller of something. Few people would doubt that CIOs as buyers currently find it easier to get better deals from technology vendors.
But conversations with many CIOs convince me that most of them still take their customers for granted. Few are leveraging this era of better prices for technology to modernize their aging technology infrastructures built for 20th century customer needs.
It’s time to borrow the Japanese view of customers. CIOs who build a 21st century technology infrastructure that treats customers as honored guests can sit back and watch sales and market share increase.