At INVIGOREN we cherish feedback and an article or a blog is one of the best tools to generate thought, gain consensus, and most importantly encourage productive dissent.  All too often the "manager in us" is fearful of dissent, especially if we lead with authority,  Yet if we lead with knowledge and lessons, we can encourage productive dissent which can be productive feedback and result in new thought.

Does your customer deserve a capital "C"?

I believe so...

Proofing my own work has always been difficult for me, so it is not uncommon for me to solicit proofreaders whenever and wherever I can find them. A recent document so submitted came back with an annotation or two, and the proofreader asked a familiar question. “Whenever you mention the “Customer” you consistently capitalized it… it almost appears to be a deliberate error. Why?

I had answered this question countless times before, but this time it occurred to me that I also should address this subject with a potentially bigger audience with a post. However, I first had to deal with the person and the question at hand.

My Customer is differentiated from your customer.

I explained that I capitalized the word “customer” to differentiate it from the masses whenever it was “my” Customer. (Example: The industry’s customers are quite common, but our Company has found that its Customers are extraordinary.) In much the same way one capitalizes the word “company” when referring to one’s current Company.

Years ago when I was taught the rule of when to capitalize “company”, I remembered the rule by relating the capitalization of the word to whether I have some degree of possession of it, if I had a relationship with it, or whether it was important to me. If the answer was yes, I knew to start with a big “C”. I suspect that all of the buzz about the “Me Generation” at the time, helped my recall as well. Soon I found myself teaching the “company word rule” to others.

However, it did not take much time in business to realize that the most important capital “C” is the Customer. If I was teaching others to demonstrate respect for our Company with a capital “C”, I was truly missing the boat if I did not do the same for our Customers and our designated Prospects. Therefore, my new rule followed the same logic as “company”. If it is your Customer, the one you serve and defend… capitalize it, and if you are referring the customers of the competition keep it in lower case.

When deployed it is used daily, by many, and at all levels

For the past two decades, this has been one of my tactics to reinforce the importance of a Customer focus in the companies where I have worked. There have been more overt and bigger tactics in my arsenal over the years, but I know that this simple rule gets traction each and every day, as a convert writes an email or prepares a presentation. I do not need to be present for it to make its point, and as a faux rule of grammar, it likely receives an enhanced degree of compliance that I would never deserve on my own.

Make a capital investment: “C”

So now, I will address the bigger audience. Someone must have rationalized, communicated, or mandated the rule about company and Company, and now I am hoping that you will embrace my rule about customer and Customer. Invest in your company and customers with a capital "C"!

The economy of the last decade demonstrates what happens when people become obsessed with themselves and their Company. Maybe if we all had elevated our Customers, Clients, Consumers, Constituents, and Congregants to a higher place years ago, we might not be in such a “Mess” today.

I know… I used a capital “M”; maybe we all need to take ownership of that as well.

Bob Islinger Copyright 2014









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A word from Bob Islinger, CEO

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Brand/Franchise, and the Catalyst for Change.


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