Recently, I met with Chief Richard Collins of Osceola County Florida Fire and Rescue: one of the larger departments in the state. We were talking about marketing and public affairs plans. I kept using the word that has become common-place with government agencies: the customer.
He told me that he refuses to use the word, "customer" anymore. First, I was a bit surprised, not that I am married to the word. Here's what he said. "When you consider the situations that we are faced with daily-especially the critical ones-you see the gamut: from that of extreme concern in an average traffic accident, to fear for one's life trapped in a house fire, the relationship between our people and the citizen in peril is a riveting one." It is and will be like no other in the life of our fire fighters and the citizen(s) we help. We both become as close as family-possibly during the emergency-even closer. "These citizens are not just our customers. They are our neighbors and they live near our firehouses, in our very neighborhoods. They are part of our family. "We are protecting families and we are all part of the same one: the family of man." Makes a lot of sense to me. How about you?