What Do You Call Them?

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Quick, what do you call those people who walk through your front door and give you money for a service or product? Patron, Customer, Guest, Client, Buyer, Shopper, Trouble…..

Consider for a moment the following questions.

Does it matter what language you use in referring to those who utilize your products or services? When you think about the word “customer”, what comes to mind? A person who finds something in your store, or orders a meal in your restaurant, pays their bill and leaves. In some cases, a friendly conversation may take place during this exchange. What image do you have about the word “guest?” Do you think about someone who has been invited into your home? Is this person someone that you want to make feel welcome and comfortable? Does the idea of having a guest make you feel happy? How do you feel about a customer? Are you actively doing everything in your power to make them feel welcome and comfortable? Are you connecting with your customers or is it simply a transactional relationship?

Does the perception of who we serve change with the language used to describe them? As organizations have been moving away from calling those who work for them “employees”, I am curious if the language we use to refer to our customers will also evolve? In the world we live in where everyone wants to be “liked” on Facebook, “+1” on Google+, or followed on Twitter, how do you show your customers that you are connected to them? Does it start with the language?

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