CxP Law #2: People Are Instinctively Self-Centered

Everyone has their own frame of reference, which heavily influences what they do and how they do it. Customers, for instance, care intensely about their own needs and desires but they don’t generally know or care as much about how companies are organized.

Employees also have their individual frames of reference; which often includes a deeper understanding of products, company organization, and subject matter (see: Your Customers Are Martians). If left unchecked, decisions made inside of companies will often reflect the frame of reference of employees, not customers. We sometimes call this problem self-referential design.

Here are some implications of this law:

  • You know more than your customers; deal with it. You can’t eliminate your biases, but it helps to acknowledge them. Recognize that customers may not understand things like product names, acronyms, and process steps that you regularly discuss at work. So there’s a natural bias for making experiences too complicated for customers. Get in the habit of asking yourself: “Would our target customers fully understand this?”
  • Don’t sell things, help customers buy them. Whenever you’re thinking about a customer experience, always try and frame it from the customer’s point of view. Look at all interactions as an opportunity to help customers to do something. How can you institutionalize this? Infuse the voice of the customer within your processes.
  • Don’t let company organization drive experiences. Just because you have separate organizations running your Website, retail stores, and call center does not permit you to make customers jump through hoops. Customers shouldn’t have to know (and they certainly don’t care) how you are organized. Here’s a key symptom to look for: Any front-line employee that needs to explains to a customer how your company is organized.

The bottom line: Make the shift from self-centeredness to customer-centeredness.

P.S. Here’s a link to all 6 laws of customer experience.

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.

2 thoughts on “CxP Law #2: People Are Instinctively Self-Centered”

  1. If I may another implications of this law:

    Your Internal Customers(Employees) are also part of the same ecosystem as your Customers learn from them and leverage on the diversity of experience each employee brings to the table. Do take into account an individual’s feedback and actually if possible encourage it. This will give you first look at what your Customers will think.

Leave a Reply