Enlisting Customers’ Customers

Customers' CustomersEver hear of customers’ customers? Sure you have. Once they were called “employees”, or “tenants”, or “students”. Now everyone’s a “customer”.

The customers’ customer model provides facility contractors an opportunity to increase their value to existing customers. It also makes it less likely customers will switch to another contractor. But first…

Who’s the Customer?

Typically, the facility service customer, our contact, is a manager of a function or structure (security director, plant manager, campus administrator, etc.)

They include contracted services as part of a safe, secure, clean and productive workplace.

They serve the facility needs of their customers, i.e. employees, tenants, etc. – these are our customers’ customers.

Customers’ Customers Choose to Participate -or- Not

There are facility programs where our customers’ customers choose to participate, or not.

Obviously this isn’t true all the time. Some policies and procedures are not optional. Either the benefits or penalties are too big to ignore, and so they’re followed.

But for some facility programs,there are areas where customers determine their participation.

2 Examples: Recycling Programs & Security Practices

Recycling program success is directly dependent on enlisting customers’ participation. They have to change their behavior, do things differently, for programs to work.

Contract security services can’t be everywhere all the time. Protecting the workplace is largely dependent on customers following security practices. Think about confidential information on laptops. Or, after-hours in a parking garage.

Our Customers Seek Their Customers Buy-In

Forcing customers to do things they don’t want to do just doesn’t work. A Stalag 17 mentality creates more escape tunnels than Swiss cheese.

When you no longer can demand, you must enlist. Our customers are now faced with gaining their customers’ participation in doing things the “right way”. And this requires our customers to market their programs.

Contractors’ Opportunities

Contractors can help with the burden of marketing to our customers’ customers.

Who knows more than service providers about the value of recycling? Or importance of security? Or whatever? That’d be you – the contractor!

By working closely with customers, contractors can first understand, then design, and potentially implement efforts to increase participation in facility programs.

Here’s how contractors might help:

1) Provide information such as case studies & success stories highlighting benefits of participation

2) Develop communication plans with creative ways of raising customers’ customers awareness

3) Produce awareness-raising promotional items -costs may be shared, or picked up by contractors or customers

4) Promote participation – contractors personnel doing the marketing work, i.e. “meet & greets”, group emails, seminars, etc.

Success Requirements

Obviously, contractors can’t try to enlist participation on their own. Here are several needs:

1) Customers must allow contractors to help – obvious, yes

2) Customers will allow greater participation if trust & integrity are present with their contractors

3) Contractors must invest the time & effort to understand customers’ programs, culture, goals & limitations

4) All contractors’ promotion efforts must be authorized – again, obvious

Contractors’ Benefit Loop

This is a great self-perpetuating loop to get into with customers. By marketing to your customers’ customers, contractors gain:

1) Greater integration with customers -> increases your value to them, less likely to switch

2) Increased understanding of customers – leverage to create new, customized service offerings

3) Offer new customized services -> increased revenue & profit -> leads back to #1

What Programs Do You Market to Customers’ Customers?
Chris Arlen
President, Service Performance

Technorati: marketing, janitorial, security

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