"Internal teams must embed with their partners, especially with emergent use cases. They shouldn't rely on tickets tossed over the wall." 1000% agree here.

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The term 'customer' also helps me for internal collaboration. I am not a CX specialist, but I have always found it bad that the internal departments do not have the same understanding of 'customer orientation' as you are used to as a real customer and as you like it for yourself.

Internally, you always forget that very quickly. Even if partner would be the more correct term, the word 'customer' always reminds me to set a higher standard and to provide a super service internally as well. For our real customers out there....

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I love this however I would apply my spin on this

1 - I want my stakeholder/ human I work with to behave and work with me as a partner

2 - However... I want them to be engaged and feel like a customer

3 - So I and my team will engage and treat them like a customer until they become a partner

4 - If they do not want to become my partner - I will then attempt to retain their engagement/ interest like a customer

5 - If still no interest in becoming a partner- I will offboard them like a customer and do my darndest to turn them into an advocate of me, my team and my work

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I've always been uncomfortable with the idea of an internal "customer", partly because it subordinates certain teams and people below others. I really appreciate how you've articulated some of the other, more objective, challenges to the idea of internal customers here!

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Internal stakeholders and requests - those words establish the dynamics that usually kills the discovery very successfully, it is "IT project" client-vendor and not product way of doing. Internal customer is step forward from stakeholder, closer to product way. Partner may be easily be the step above, should be tested.

(Funny how choice of words strongly influence the ways of working. Especially funny for us who are not English native speakers, I think the influence there is even bigger).

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Well written John!

Peter Drucker once made the point, that the whole purpose of a company is create and keep a customer. From my point of view, this inevitably leads to "the company" having to work together to be able to do exactly that. Silos and "internal customers" who need to pay for the services of their partners/team-members for them to be able to serve the real customers, ensures disfunctional organizations and leads to unhappy customers.

I prefer the term "partner" or even better "member of our team".

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Thanks John - just from the headline I got the insight - it's an important piece of the puzzle.

I would argue that the concept of the customer customer is flawed and gives rise to all kinds of antipattern, and actually we need to be partnering with our 'external customer' too.

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Why not assert that internal product teams have to serve both (real) customers & internal customers? Forces clarity & explicit prioritization.

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