From the Board Continued from page 3
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organization, internal customers would
include the human resources manager,
the finance manager, senior executives,
colleagues, the project team and the business development manager.
External customers would be clients,
suppliers, subcontractors and partnering
organizations. The business of securing clients drives revenue and is essential to the
success and survival of an organization.
Dr. Zeitoun: In my different roles as a
project manager, I have had a changing
landscape of diverse customers. To me, I
respect every stakeholder as a customer!
They could be internal (the marketing
team receiving my newly designed curriculum when I was managing talent development programs) or external (organizations
receiving my material handling system
components when I worked in a corrugated box plant). In either case, the customers need to know that they are the central
point of our dedication to their success.
PMI Today: Do you use any priority
ranking for customers (in other words,
are some customers more important
Mr. Sura: To me, internal customers are
as important as external customers.
It is definitely very important to satisfy
external customers. Satisfied external
customers will remain loyal to the
company longer, make repeat purchases
or supply repeat products or services,
and will refer the company to others.
Conversely, an external customer who
suffers through a negative experience
with the company can harm an
organization by discouraging others from
patronizing it. With the advent of social
media, negative comments and reviews
can be devastating to an organization.
A negative customer experience can be
the result of poor internal customer service. This could happen if one of our employees is unhappy and that unhappiness
is deflected onto the external customer
by way of poor service. In my opinion,
there is definitely a direct correlation between internal employee happiness and a
positive external customer experience.
Clients who are more important than
others are those who not only give repeat
business but also evangelize and refer us
to other clients. Because these customers
are better connected and more influential, their ability to attract other customers is disproportionate to their share of
your business. Also, I would give priority
to clients who pay on time.
Dr. Zeitoun: Since there is ultimately one
customer at any given point or interac-
tion, theoretically a priority ranking would
not be needed. Obviously when it comes
to the portfolio level, one must prioritize
using such a ranking. I prefer to keep that
ranking simple and transparent so as
many decision makers as possible are on
the same level of understanding for how
we reached that ranking.
For the ranking, I usually put a slightly
higher weight on the factors that
contribute to changing the business
(growth, innovation, stretching
organizational capacity) over the ones
that are part of running the business
(financials, support to ongoing operations
and fit to current capabilities).
An Emotional Connection
PMI Today: In your career, what have
you found is the best way to focus on
Mr. Sura: Understanding their current
and potential needs and catering to those
needs is the best way. Also, companies
should strive to listen and recognize
existing customer concerns.
Companies should have two-way
conversations and emotional connections
with their customers. Showing concern
for the customer and addressing their
problems brings them greater satisfaction
and loyalty. Having a customer
experience that is easy, enjoyable and
convenient makes all the difference.
Another way of being customer focused is
to price the offering in such a way