Defining the Customer

Defining the Customer

This post comes from RELI Group’s exceptional Customer Experience team, dedicated to collaborating with our federal clients to guarantee optimal outcomes for customers in every interaction, whether large or small. It continues our first post in the series, Crafting the Customer Experience: A Crucial Imperative in Government Contracting.


What is a Customer? Or Who is the Customer?

Picture this scenario – you’re running a summer lemonade stand in a neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic. Every week, you encounter a variety of people. There are people who frequently stop by to purchase your lemonades, those who “window shop,” and those who walk right by your stand and never order anything. Also, at some point, you must replenish ingredients and supplies, so you frequent a store that has everything you need to produce your lemonades. And just in case there’s a busy day, or a day where you physically can’t be present, you have a backup person that you pay to assist you. In this scenario, who are the customers?


The Oxford English dictionary defines customer as, “A person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.” So, by definition, the customers are the people who buy your lemonade, right? Most of us would agree with this. But what about the people who walked by and didn’t buy any? How about the store clerk you bought the ingredients from, or the patrons who are concerned you’re blocking a sidewalk in the neighborhood? Let’s even consider your employee who steps in when you need a break – what about them?


From the lens of customer experience, we challenge you to expand upon the traditional definition by considering that all these people, including you, can be customers. At RELI Group, we view every individual as a customer and every interaction as an opportunity to design a customer experience. This customer-centric philosophy permeates every aspect of our work, from the emails we send to the applications we develop. By adopting this perspective, we ensure that our products and services consistently meet and exceed the expectations of our diverse audience. It’s not just about delivering a product or service; it’s about crafting an experience that resonates with each individual we interact with. While this mindset is a bit of a departure from the traditional way of thinking, it drives us to design the best customer experience for our unique set of customers. By seeing each interaction through the lens of customer experience, we can build stronger relationships, foster loyalty, and ultimately drive better outcomes for our federal clients. From this perspective, let’s shift from defining a customer to defining YOUR customers.


What Problem Are You Solving?

To begin defining your customer, you must first understand the problem you are solving for them. What do they need to know or receive from you? This requires putting yourself in their shoes and empathizing with their situation. By understanding their pain points and challenges, you can tailor your deliverable to provide real solutions that address their needs. Whether it’s providing crucial data in a report, simplifying a complex process through a user-friendly application, or offering insightful analysis in a presentation, your goal should be to alleviate their pain points and improve their experience.


Empathy is a critical component in designing customer experiences. It allows you to anticipate and meet the needs of your audience proactively. Whether you’re crafting a simple email or developing a complex application, your primary goal should be to make the end user’s life easier. By focusing on the problems you’re solving, you can create more meaningful and impactful interactions. For instance, a well-designed user interface that reduces the steps needed to complete a task can significantly enhance user satisfaction and productivity.


Who Needs the Problem Solved?

Now that you are well-versed in the problem that needs solving, the next step is understanding your end user. Who is asking for the problem to be solved? Who will be receiving the product, information or deliverable? Understanding your end user involves more than just knowing their demographic details; it requires a deep dive into their needs, preferences and behaviors. This knowledge helps create more targeted and effective communications and products. For example, if your end user is a busy executive, they probably value concise and clear information that can be quickly digested and acted upon.


Identifying the end user also means considering the broader context in which they will use your product. What are their goals and challenges? What are their expectations? By answering these questions, you can better position your product or service to solve their problems and meet their needs. This empathetic approach ensures that your deliverable is not just functional, but also valuable and relevant to the end user. By understanding the nuances of your audience’s daily lives and work environments, you can create solutions that seamlessly integrate into their routines and add tangible value.


Create Personas

Creating personas is a valuable tool in understanding and designing for your audience. Personas can be informal or formal, but their purpose is the same: to help you make informed decisions for the intended audience or end user. Personas represent the archetypal users of your product, providing insights into their needs, behaviors and goals. They help guide the design process and ensure that your product resonates with the people who will use it. By crafting detailed personas, you can better anticipate how different types of users will interact with your product and what features will be most beneficial to them.


Personas are particularly useful in driving towards the intended outcome. They help you focus on the key characteristics and motivations of your audience, allowing you to create more targeted and effective solutions. By incorporating personas into your design process, you can ensure that every decision you make is aligned with the needs and expectations of your customers. This methodical approach helps in prioritizing features, refining messaging and ultimately creating an end product that offers real value to its users.


At RELI Group, we’re driving a shift in thinking: view all interactions as opportunities to design an experience. Every touchpoint, whether it’s a quick email or a comprehensive presentation, represents a moment to engage and delight our customers. This mindset drives us to be thoughtful and deliberate in all our communications and deliverables. By adopting this customer-centric mindset, you can transform every touchpoint into a meaningful and engaging moment for your audience. This approach goes beyond traditional customer service; it’s about creating lasting impressions that foster loyalty and drive success. By consistently putting the customer at the center of everything we do, we can build stronger, more enduring relationships.


Want to learn more about RELI’s approach to CX design? Check out this blog, or contact us today!