Do your customers love you enough?

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Want to know how to test loyalty - ask 'em to bring a shovel

Friends. I always think you can divide your friends into three camps, based on this slightly gruesome but otherwise effective test:

You’ve accidentally killed someone. Someone bad. The circumstances are such that if you call the police you will almost certainly be locked up for a very long time. 

You decide to bury the body.

But you need help. So you call a friend. 

Your friends can be divided into 3 categories:

  1. Those who would turn you in
  2. Those who would not turn you in, but would not help either
  3. Those who bring a shovel.

I’ve always put my sister in the shovel camp, but actually she’s better than that. She’d turn up with snacks, gloves, and duct tape. I used to put my brother in that camp, but now he has a child I’m not sure I could rely on him for a shovel. I’m sure he’d say something about not going to jail. Meh. 

Now, all three of these friend types have their place in your life, because, let’s face it, you’re unlikely to bury a lot of bodies, but you do need people who bring you boxes of fudge back from Cornwall, or take the dog out for a wee when you go drinking. 

Would any of your customers bring a shovel?

Customer loyalty is like that. Very few customers are going to be with you through thick and thin. The minor few are going to spread the word about your business or service, because they love you in a bring-a-shovel way. Some of them are just going to observe what you do (but never help) and some of them are just going to tell you what’s wrong. Or worse, tell other people what you’re doing wrong. 

So you need to make it easy to gather customer feedback. Whether that’s open comments on your blog, or letting people say mean things on YouTube comments, it’s all helpful. 

There’s one problem. We hear what we want to. It’s a beautiful trick of the mind called CONFIRMATION BIAS. You know how when you’re having a heated argument about, oh ANYTHING and rather that listen to the opposing side, you tend to look for evidence to support what you think.

Think of an office colleague you’ve worked with who you hated. Rather than approach the situation logically you see everything they do as evidence of their incompetence/ineptitude/sheer evil. 

That's because people don’t consider the facts, they look at them through a lens of their own opinion. That’s how two people on opposing sides can hear the same story and both hear different things to support their beliefs. 

This Dilbert comic nails it:

So you need to be on the lookout for feedback, but also make sure you’re actually HEARING it. There’s an internet meme on what British people say versus what foreigners hear. It makes me laugh because a) it’s true, and b) when you’re not straightforward, confirmation bias can run wild, screaming misunderstanding down the corridors. If you think about how politicians (and business people) quite often talk in vague riddles, you can see how easy it is to cherry-pick your argument.

I liked this one the most: 

British person says: “That’s a very brave idea”

British person means “You are insane”

Foreigner hears: “She thinks I have courage”


So get out there. Be brave. Or insane. But do ask for feedback. 



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Hannah LewisComment