Words Of Wisdom: Stanley Marcus On Customers As People

Stanley Marcus, who was president and chairman of the board of Neiman Marcus, was quoted as saying:

Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.

I think he was telling us that great experiences need to accomodate the specific needs, wants, and aspirations of individuals — who just happen to also be customers.

My take: Unfortunately, many companies don’t seem to understand this concept. I often find that firms either lack any real understanding of their customers or they rely almost completely on analyses of their data warehouses. That’s why I often find myself telling clients…

Your customers don’t live in spreadsheets; you need to go out and talk to them to understand who they are as people. That is, of course, unless each of your customers is really a 55% female with 2.3 kids who is 48% from a suburb and is 11% hispanic.”

It’s not that analytics are bad (they’re actually quite helpful), but they don’t provide enough of an understanding of “people” to design and deliver great experiences. That’s why companies should use design personas — as I discussed in my previous post called “Get To Know You Customers Persona-lly

In order to get a sense of what we mean by a design persona, here is a an example from WHITTMANHART that was shown in an excellent Forrester research report called Best And Worst Of Personas, 2007 by Moira Dorsey (Note: This is only a partial view of the persona).




WHITTMANHART Persona Example

WHITTMANHART Persona Example

The bottom line: Experiences need to satisfy individual people, not consumers.


Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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