Your Customers Don’t Really Care That Much About You

Many times when I’m working with companies on their customer experience efforts, I run into the same problem: “self-centeredness.” This isn’t a character flaw of Forrester clients, just a bias that’s shared by many people involved in making decisions about how companies should treat their customers.

What do I mean by “self-centeredness?” It’s when we (it happens to all of us) think that customers look more like us than they really do. It’s a natural bias that people have when they don’t posses a clear picture of their target customers (a more technical term for this type of bias: self-referential design). As a result, companies often make decisions based on the misconceptions that customers:

  • Think about their company more often than they really do
  • Know more about their products than they really do
  • Understand their product nomenclature more than they really do
  • Care about how the company is organized more than they really do
  • Understand the domain more than they really do

You spend 40+ hours per week in your job and probably another 20 hours thinking about it when your not at work. Do you really think that your customers are spending even a fraction of that time thinking about you? No way!

My advice: 

  • Keep an eye open for self-centeredness. It’s impossible to totally eliminate  personal biases, but if you recognize that they creep into decision making processes, then you can spot and minimize them. But don’t just look for them in what you do — your co-workers are also prone to be self-centered.
  • Develop a compelling picture of your customers. If people have a vivid understanding of their target customers, they’ll be less likely to be self-centered. That’s why we often recommend that companies create and use design personas to develop a clear picture of key customer segments (you’ll certainly hear more about personas in my future posts!)

The bottom line: If you assume that your customers don’t know very much about your firm — you’re bound to be more right than wrong.

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

One thought on “Your Customers Don’t Really Care That Much About You”

  1. Hello Bruce,

    I totally agree that companies exhibit a degree of self centeredness with regard to customers . This gets reflected in product communication ( specially terminology), service design etc.

    I was wondering if you would explore this theme in the context of organisation silos . My thought is that some of the self centeredness is because the company is structured in a particular way and everyone wants a certain level of visibility to the customer. In the quest for visibility one becomes self centered.

    If that be the case, what is the way forward for the organisation.

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