I followed a Twitter link to this post a few days ago. It was interesting in its own right, as a little window into how it is to not react like other people do to certain stimuli. To everyone who has ever said “How on earth could you not realise …?” – this would be a good time for you to read this.
It got me thinking about how we think we know what will motivate, or provoke, or satisfy, our customers. We’re encouraged to have more empathy and so we should, and it’s at least a start that we are trying to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes and imagine how we would feel in their place. But that’s only the first step. Once we are able to place ourselves, with our own history and prejudices, into someone else’s situation, we then have to realise that our reaction is still going to be different. There’s a whole range of emotional and physical and cognitive responses that we do one way and Customer X may do another way, or not do at all, or do and then melt down.
We can’t possibly imagine or viscerally understand how it feels to be each and every customer, with a special set of circumstances in every case. But we also can’t assume that everyone will react just like we do to, say, the withdrawal of a bus route or the closure of a school. And in fact we can’t always assume that they will react within a ‘normal’ range of responses that we can relate to.