#42WeekHitchhikersGuide – This week I would like to focus on who the “customer” is. This of course is rather self explanatory if you’ve done a proposal and someone is paying you to do something. But what if what you’re doing it as part of your job? Do we still see the end users as customers and if so, are we treating them the way we would a paying customer?

Week:  4 of 42, 38 left

This week’s best line from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series: “For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.”

I see this often. Where our superpowers become our kryptonite. And yes, I've been guilty of it too. The more our skillset grows, the more confident we get into thinking we know it all. Kind of a Dolphin vs Man catch 22.

What is a customer?

cus|tom¦er [ˈkʌstəmə]

1. a person who buys goods or services from a shop or business
2. a person of a specified kind with whom one has to deal


Let’s take a step back and be reminded of WHY we are doing “it”. Keep in mind that in this example I’m referring to internal SharePoint Sites – not external Internet sites for paying customers.

Delivering Excellent Customer Service:

I do believe that if we see our end users as customers, we will change the way we deal with them, manage expectations better and in the end, deliver a better service.

“What customers think is true. Unfortunately, it may not be supported by the facts. Understand that they will hold on to this truth and do not fight to change their mind. Apologize and then try to come up with a satisfactory solution.” The 10 Keys of Excellent Customer Service

The above is such a powerful statement. Forcing users to adopt new ways of working is foolish. We should be showing them the (better) alternatives and if that cannot change their mind then either we’re not explaining it well enough, or it might not be the better alternative.

However user adoption is NOT about getting people to use the systems we’ve built. It’s actually about why we built the system in the first place.

You should not be building landing pages / solutions to look awesome, or because you can. It’s not about promoting yourself. It’s all about making the “customer” feel great. Can they find what they need? Are you supplying information and links to content that helps them be more efficient / effective?

This is me (great exercise):

What do you do? (actions)

Supply a service to my internal customers by building solutions that address a business need / create or map content / functionality on landing pages, train users to use functionality.

How do you do it? (tools)

I use SharePoint + Windows + Microsoft Office

Why do you do it? (reason)

To Facilitate the Evolution of Human Capabilities

Here’s some tips on delivering excellent customer service:

  • Answer your phone / emails
  • Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit in it
  • Deal with complaints, fix your mistakes
  • Don’t make promises unless you will keep them
  • Go the extra mile
  • Keep it simple
  • Know and listen to your customers
  • Respond as quickly as possible
  • Think long term – A customer is for life
  • Train your staff to help your customers better


Now, as part of my blog challenge I would like to feature someone every week. Whether it be advice, tips & tricks or a code snippet they’d like to share. This week’s Babel Fish is brought to you by Susan Hanley. I’ve known Sue for a couple of years and consider her a friend and mentor as well as someone I look up to. See more on Essential SharePoint BlogTwitterWebsiteLinkedIn

“One of my favorite tips to help create a great user experience for intranet sites is to ask the content owners to think about the phone calls or emails they get from their “customers.” If they get a lot of calls because people can’t find information on their web site, it might be because what they are promoting on the home page is more about the story the department wants to tell and less about what the “customer” needs to know. Relentlessly focusing on the “customer” for content helps organize pages with an end user focus and classify content so that it can be found by people who aren’t necessarily familiar with the terminology used by experts in the department.” – Susan Hanley

Till next week. Know where your towel is and always be thankful for the fish 🙂

Disclaimer: I learn new things every day. I change my opinion every day. I am far from an expert on any of the topics I blog on. I invite your comments, additions, corrections and greater insights. If you get value from my musings, please tell me & give me feedback. Like and share my posts if you feel more people can obtain value from this. After all – the WWW has supplied us with a free education system that should be used.