WHAT CAN GUINEA PIGS TEACH US ABOUT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?

by Paula on October 7, 2011

Starting writing this I realise that it could potentially be my most “out there” blog yet, but if you’re reading it then I clearly decided that despite that it has some value!

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that the most normal and day-to-day activities can often switch a lightbulb on in my head as I see a correlation with an area of business that I’ve been thinking about, and I’m going to admit that yesterday cleaning out and feeding my son’s guinea pigs, I had such a thought. (I know I know, bear with me here!)

Customer Experience

Earlier this week I wrote a blog ‘Step back from the desire to over-complicate’ and then a little later in the day had read Simon Norris’ really thought-provoking blog ‘The Rise of the CXO’. I was thinking through the big shift in culture and focus needed within businesses to really embrace and understand this concept and how in a number (ok a majority of) businesses, even Social Media is seen as an add-on and another advertising tool for the marketing department to play with. It therefore follows that to have the delivery of a quality customer experience as a driving force behind board room decisions, will be a big step for many who have spent years focusing on projecting outwards rather than leading by listening and learning.

Why Guinea Pigs?

Well no real reason why guinea pigs, and to be honest the concept and thought is pretty much the same with any pet, and indeed with babies in the years before they can talk. As their owner (back to the guinea pigs) it is my job to make sure that they are well cared for and happy. As I was cleaning them out the following thoughts were wandering through my mind…

  • You must be quite bored in the same run every day
  • You must be desperate for a change of scenery
  • It must be miserable for you today without the sunshine
  • Don’t you get fed up of just eating vegetables
And that’s when the light bulb moment occurred. All of these questions are things I would feel and I am therefore projecting them onto these guinea pigs whose needs and desires are probably quite different to mine! Perhaps they like the cooler weather, perhaps the same view every morning is a wonderful comfort, perhaps a pile of vegetables each day is like a vision of heaven!

And how does this relate to my business…?

It relates because it’s exactly is what most businesses do. They think about what they would like and what they would do and then give this to their customers assuming that they will like it too. But as a business owner they are so wrapped up in their own experiences and wishes, and so intricately woven into the fabric of their business that they can’t really be objective about what their customer really wants and end up just guessing.

The wonderful thing about our customers is they don’t squeak or hide, they talk! That wonderful tool of communication which means we don’t have to wonder and guess but we can ask. We can listen. We can learn. We can react!

And so what can we learn?

Social Media brings us closer than ever to our customers if we are using it correctly, and allows us to listen, ask, talk and respond. It allows us to learn about what our customers like and don’t like, and to use this wealth of information and feedback to ensure that we are growing in a direction that suits the need of our customers and not our perception of what our customers want. But Social Media is just the tip of it. As we learn to incorporate it more into our businesses then the relationship between service providers and product sellers, and their clients will become closer and more significant, and in this world of overwhelming choice on where we spend our precious money, it is probably becoming clear who will be the winners.

And Finally…

Guinea pig chocolates. Yes they do sell them and yes people buy them but isn’t it humans who like chocolates…? Producers of these products know that in our heads we see chocolate as a treat and therefore provide it so we will say “Chocolate is a reward, our guinea pigs are special to us, they need these treats too” and people get great comfort and satisfaction from giving their pets these treats, but do they need them? No. So watch out for this natural desire to assume the people we are selling to want what we would want, as it’s a big turn of tide to look at it from another angle…

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