Hello Joan, interesting discussion you and Michelle are having. I would say, you are both right.|
Customers are divided into two broad area's.
Michelle is describing the importance of the internal customers. They certainly are important, especially in a time of great demand for their skills. The way management and leadership treat its internal customers is often times reflected in the way they treat their external customers. Culture, and a common value system play as big a part in Go2nets success in this area as anything.
From what I've heard, they are doing a great job in this area. I don't believe Brad or Jeff would have sold to Go2net, and continued working for them if they felt the place was not a fun and nurturing place to work. Many of the software companies in the Seattle area are great places to work. So they need to be competitive in this area to attract the right kind of talent to grow.
However, there is an old saying which goes...
"Anyone who thinks customers are not important should try doing without them for a few days".
(they were not describing the internal customer)<vbg>.
The most important customer is the "loyal customer". The goal of management should be to build as many loyal customers as possible. As an internet company I would suggest the loyal customers on SI are normally the most active ones. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I believe these loyal customers are also the ones which have SI set as their "homepage". A business area, I believe, Go2net has a unique opportunity to take advantage of.
Customer loyalty is something that must be demonstrated through an act of execution, trust, or delightful service. They become partners with you through their journey as a customer. Some of the posts you linked to us yesterday described this beautifully. They feel as much a part of SI as the workers and managers. The success of SI is important to them.
The "voice of the customer" is an expression for listening to the customer. The company should get to know the customer as well as their own families. It is necessary to have constant contact with the customer in order to accomplish this.
"You must take the customer's skin temperature every day."
The most loyal customers are the most likely ones to complain. Complaints are like nuggets of gold, complaints let an organization know how to improve, and how to beat the competition.
I doubt whether Go2net has grown enough and differentiated its management systems to the point where someone has the skills and knowledge to perform serious "Quality Function Deployment". But the house of quality is a tool management could use to determine the short, and long term needs, desires, of the external customers.
I better stop here, you could really get me going on my favorite subject Joan, and I might bore the thread to tears. :-)