It’s evening time, work is finished for the day, and I am taking a stroll.
Across my path I notice a man in his thirties. He smiles. He starts speaking to me. I reply. He notices that I am a foreigner in this land. He says “English?”, I say “Yes”. He asks where I am from. I tell him. Then he says he likes English football.
I am listening – listening with a view to understand what he is talking about. Then he moves closer into me and starts ‘tackling’ me – the “English tackle” he says. He says something about the World Cup…. I stand there puzzled – why is this fellow up close and personal with me? I didn’t give him my permission.
Right at that moment this feeling hits me: “Somethings not right!”. Automatically, I reach for my back pocket where I keep my wallet. What do I find? I find his hand there on my back pocket: he is in the midst of stealing my wallet.
I find myself hit with a wave of disgust. Why? It hits me that it has all been a charade – an effort to distract and deceive me long enough for him to pick my pocket and walk away with my wallet.
A little later it occurs to me that this is true for the whole customer-centric thing. What do I mean by that? I mean that when you strip away the fine sounding words, the whole Customer thing – as lived by just about every large business I have come in contact with – comes down to this:
- Working out which customers have the biggest wallets;
- Striving to understand the motivations, inclinations, behaviours and weaknesses of customers; and
- Using this insight to craft-execute ‘strategies’ to attract/engage/seduce the customer long enough to walk away with his wallet without alerting the customer to what is really going on.
So, my advice to you as a customer is be wary of the customer-centric enterprise. Why? The odds are it is a pickpocket in disguise. Instead go for the enterprise that has a reputation for great products (e.g. Apple). Or a reputation for great service (e.g. Amazon). Ideally, one that has a reputation for a great products and great service (e.g. John Lewis).