Who Are The Clients

July 15, 2022

In order to be healthy, you have to be effective. In order to be effective, the system works, the system produces what it needs to produce. But in order to be effective, you have to identify the clients whom you are serving. Who are the clients? Clients are not those who necessarily consume the product or the service. These are customers. Clients are those who decide to buy it. Who decides, that is your client.

I used to take my kids, when they were young, every Sunday for brunch. I liked to go to a restaurant called Love because they had baked beans, which I liked. Guess where did we go? Which restaurant did we go to eat? McDonald's. Who decided? The kids. So who are the clients of McDonald's? I was the one who was carrying the wallet. That's why McDonald's is very good at marketing. It is oriented to the kids. They promote to the kids. They have playgrounds for the kids in front of the restaurant. The menu focuses on the kids.

Who decides that is who is the client.

If you are a real estate developer in a developed country like the United States go to New York. Look at their apartments. The kitchens are very small. What's going on? People eat out. Who is the client? The wife. That's who decides what to buy. So when you are going to ask yourself, I want to be effective, my company to be effective, focus on who decides. In the B to B business, there are multiple people who decide. The finance people, any one of them can veto. Now you have to look at all the different needs and develop a separate pitch for each one of them.

What about the shareholders? Are they not the clients? They want to get a return on their investment. And that, by the way, is economic theory. For them, the client of the business is the shareholders. That's why we aim how to produce profits for them. But what happens? We are forgetting the customers. We are forgetting the clients. Sometimes we undermine the needs of the clients to satisfy the needs of the shareholders. Selling clients food that is not healthy. So what are the shareholders? For me they are stakeholders. There is a goal, we have to satisfy the needs of the stakeholders. For sure, there is no question about it. Why? So they continue to cooperate. So you can satisfy the needs of the clients. You have to satisfice. Herbert Simon called it satisfycing: to do enough to satisfy. We have to satisfy the needs of the stakeholders so they give you the resources to satisfy the real needs of your customer. That is your focus. The clients. Stakeholders should be happy enough but with clients, more is better. Stakeholders enough is good enough. So whom do you exist for? For your clients. And how do you know if you are satisfying their needs? Look at a restaurant.

If you own a restaurant, and the clients, customers,are not coming back, you're going to run out of customers. Unless you are a tourist trap because there are always some kinds of tourists.The client in a tourist trap is the owner. And the customer is just a vessel to make money for the owner. That is why in tourist traps the food is so lousy.

Whom do you want to satisfy? Who do you want then to come back?

If your spouse is not coming back, there is a need you did not satisfy. If the children are not coming back and they disperse around the world, there is a reason.

Are you a client too? You have a need too, right? Yes, but watch it. You should not be a client. You should be a stakeholder. Satisfy your needs sufficiently, so you can serve that for which you exist as a parent, as a leader, as a scientist, as an innovator whatever it is. If you are the client, everything is to satisfy your needs, you are egocentric.

And by the way, it doesn’t have to be an external client. Every department, every unit inside the company has clients. They have to buy your services. Accounting has external clients for information but everybody inside also needs information. Yes, but they cannot decide because we have a monopoly over their needs. Accounting, they have to buy my services, they cannot go outside. In that case, be honest. Just honest.

Close your eyes and ask yourself, who needs my services? Next, what do they need? And will they buy outside if they had the choice to do so? Would my spouse stay with me if they had a choice not to stay with me? Be honest. And now we have an exercise I would like you to do. Who are the clients of a hospital? Who are the clients of a prison? Who are the clients of school? Who are the clients of government? There is a lot of confusion that creates a lot of problems and inefficiencies and bureaucracies so we better discuss it.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes