Who are your customers?
I’ve always had the conversation with new employees that we have 3 sets of customers that we need to constantly be addressing 1) The customers signing the contracts and requesting interpreting services 2) The consumers who do not use English as their first language and are utilizing our Interpreters 3) The Interpreters that work with us.
And for me, I’ll add a 4th – my employees. All of these ‘customers’ need to be treated with the same respect as the customers signing our contracts and sending in checks. All work together like cogs in a wheel – when each are supported, communication is successful in a seemingness fashion – which is the goal for all of us.
I’ve recently been mentoring a new business owner and when we had this conversation, the question inevitably came up ‘How do you address each customer’ – I think more important is each business identifying who their customers are, then addressing each one’s needs. For Empire Interpreting Service:
- Customers signing the contracts – we need to quickly be accessible to them and responding to their needs – phone calls answered by staff, not machines. Emails answered the same business day. Technology that allows each call to be logged with the customer name, phone # and time along with the same logging of each confirmation of their request. Having this kind of information at our fingertips is vitally important to our customers. Hipaa compliance and confidentiality agreements along with proper credentialing and professional insurances are extremely important as well (to these customers)
- Our LEP (limited English proficiency) consumers. These are the people that are on site, utilizing each Interpreter for critical information at each assignment. They need to trust that the Interpreters sent will represent them well – from showing up early to being dressed professionally and then most importantly – having the skill set to be that cultural and linguistic bridge to others.
- The Interpreters that work through us – they need to trust that they will also be responded to in a professional manner. That they have access to information needed – that their teams are vetted in the strictest manner so that they are constantly supported and presented professionally to their consumers. Paying them in a timely and scheduled manner and giving them technology to immediately access any assignment information.
- My employees – they are the one ‘customer’ that only I worry about. Again, showing them the respect they deserve. Giving them the tools to do their job effectively and being aware of their professional, personal and physical needs. From having the latest computers to ergonomic furniture and most importantly to them, giving them the flexibility to put family and personal priorities first.
That is my journey – but as I said to my young entrepreneur ‘mentee’ – you will need to find and address each one of your customers as you grow your business. THEY are the cogs that push the wheel towards success.