How to think like your customers

By Adam Blanch

Everyone knows how to think like a customer because everyone is a customer at some point. Think about your experience of being a customer. What impressed you and made you want to go back to that business? What irritated you and ensured you would never return? Now make your business do more of the first and less of the second. If only it were that simple, right? Well, at least there are some basic business fundamentals to start thinking like a customer.

1. There is no such thing as 'customers' (plural) - at least not to the customer

Every customer is concerned with one person - themselves. They see their own self as an individual with individual needs. They don't care what other customers think or want or like, they expect you to ask what they think, want and like. If you try to treat your customer as 'customers', they will soon realise that you really don't care about them, and go looking for a business that does. Get rid of your ‘customers’ service policy - customers hate policies because they realise that the 'policy' is more important to you than they are. Train your staff in how to deliver 'customer' service.

2. If you want to think like a customer, ask your customer what they think

This is what every customer wants from your business. They have a problem that needs a solution, and they will give their money to the person who helps them solve it. They want you to help them identify what their problem is, explore options about how to solve it, respect their choice and then help them achieve it. Customers don't care about your business or your products, only about how you can help them.

3. Make them important

I once heard a restaurant manager tell his staff: "The customers are not here to eat food or drink wine. They can do that at home. They are here to be treated as if they are important; as if they are royalty. Do that and they will reward you for it." Most customers aren't unreasonable - they know there are limitations on what you can do for them. But they expect you to do as much as you can. Don't just make them important because they are your customer. Just make them important and they’ll want to be your customer time and again.

Are you treating your customers like people or policies? Why not take a look at how to get the 'custom' back into customer.


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