People & Human Resources

It’s time to think about your ‘ustomers’

Michel Hogan /

We talk a lot about our customers, but most people in the business only see that as being external. How can we get them to see that we are our customers too?

Some business terms get used with such strong framing it’s virtually impossible to shift what people think of when they hear them. Decades of business literature has firmly entrenched the idea that the customer is one thing – usually an external party that purchases products or services.

And sometimes you can move the needle and expand or shift a frame but it’s mostly a futile errand. It’s something I’m familiar with – I’ve been trying to expand the framing of the word brand through my work and on this blog for years!

So here is an idea for everyone out there who would like to have a bigger conversation about the importance of treating the people in your organisation like customers and why that matters.

Don’t waste your time talking about a new definition for customer and instead start a conversation about the “ustomer”.

In fairness I doubt I’m the first to coin the term, but a quick road test over the past few months leads me to think there might be something to it.

The customer and the ustomer have a lot in common. Just like customers, ustomers need consistent and clear communications about what to expect and what you care about so they can care about it too.

They trade with you – in this case time for compensation.

They will look around at other options but stick with you if you make them promises you can keep and keep them.

When they believe in your organisation they can be your greatest evangelists (or when things don’t go well your vocal critic).

I’m sure every person reading this today is aware that no cool product or killer service will survive a lack of support by your ustomers. The ustomer stands shoulder to shoulder with you delivering what you care about and frankly deserves a term that captures their importance.

In today’s evolving business landscape perhaps the time has come to retire traditional terms of command and control like employee and personnel (the least personal word ever used in business).

The ustomer is on equal footing in the business, just as important as the customer, the flip side of the people coin.

So what do you think? Sound off in the comments or tweet with #ustomer. Maybe it’s a term that’s time has come. If nothing else, talking about ustomers is sure to open up a new conversation.

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Don’t miss the opportunity to get your brand questions answered by posting them on twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected].

See you next week with (your question here).

Michel is an independent brand analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. Follow her on Twitter.

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Michel Hogan

Michel Hogan is an independent brand thinker and adviser dedicated to helping you make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make — with a strong, resilient organisation and brand as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com.

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