Monday, September 13, 2004

Is there an Elvis in your house?

Last weekend, our family visited our eldest son Ben in his new home of Seattle. Ben started working for Microsoft in July as a programmer. As we walked around his office area, I noticed a lot of Elvis pictures, cutouts, etc. "What's with the Elvis?", I asked.

Ben told me that Microsoft decided a while ago that a customer focus was key, but too impersonal. So, each product group (Ben works in the Visual Studio C# product group) has a target customer or "persona". This customer is described in detail (in relation to his uses of the product, affinity to and experience with computers, education level, etc) to the employees, and named. In Ben's group's case, the customer is "Elvis". Elvis is referred to by name in meetings as in "What would Elvis say about this feature?", or "I don't think Elvis would like this....."

I LOVE this idea. It personalizes the customer from being a nameless, well, customer, to being a more real, more personable, ummmm, person.

Question: Do we take the time in our organizations to really think about the many markets we serve and describe them? Nonprofits have funder markets, service markets, employee and volunteer markets. All of them need to be viewed as a collection of people, not just as a soul-less title. Elvis has wants that need to be met. So do your markets.

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