Thursday, April 17, 2014

Customers Are Like Children... Really?

My oldest turned 3 a few months ago. I was reflecting on how she has grown and her behavior changed over the years. Well, lets say that parenting has become challenging as years go by. As I pondered over the principles of parenting that are commonly known, I came across the notion of thinking of a customer in the same light as your "child".

Before I start, let me say I am not in any way talking about customers being children and thus being treated like them. What I am indicating is that there are stark similarities between parenting strategies and what we can apply to customer management.

First, lets look at the similarities in customer behavior and children (those of you who are parents should be nodding your heads as you read on. )

1.  You can't bind them with rules 
Children don't consider themselves bound by any rules you set as a parent. They eventually learn that they have to follow the rules, but would rather go their own way. You see this more prominently in younger children. Customers have a similar trait. They do not consider themselves bound in any way to what your organization sets as service limits or product features. They always are looking for what they consider their needs are.

2. You don't know what they are thinking 
Children have their own way to thinking and processing information. This is further unique to every child which is determined by many influencers including the social and geographical environments. Furthermore, as a parent, you are always left guessing and trying to understand or judge the child's perspective. Sound familiar? Sales, Marketing and Product Managers alike will relate to this with their customers. One of their daily challenges is to understand the ever elusive customers' perspective. And like the uniqueness among children, these customer perspectives are also influenced dramatically by social and cultural factors.

3. Sometimes they amaze you
The frequency may change from child to child, but there are times that children just outright do the unexpected and leave the parents dumb-faced. Whether it is something they just intuitively understand quickly or something that they just won't get even after repeated enforcements. The fact of the matter is that they are just unpredictable by nature. You can say pretty much the same about customers. Can you really predict what a customer will do? You will come across those customers who just love your product and services for reasons you do not know and others who are just "too demanding". This leads to a wide gap in the customer experience and adds to the challenge of managing them.

I am sure by now many of you have started adding to this list. There are many similarities in the traits if you think about it.

In my next post, I will talk about how we can learn from parenting strategies and apply them to customer relations. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts about how you think customers show similar traits to children. If you think otherwise, I will be glad to hear from you too.

Keep thinking!

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