03 Jan Customer centric mindset vs the technical/professional mindset
Maintaining a customer centric mindset comes easier to some people than others, and is certainly easier in some workplace cultures than others. Those with a customer centric mindset:
- are generous with their time
- seek to understand and empathise
- place the customer’s needs before their own
- view every customer interaction as a chance to shine
- view the customer as being more important than the company
- treat every customer as they would their favourite customer
The challenge is that there are so many competing mindsets and instincts that may not be bad/harmful in themselves, and may even be good and necessary, but which do draw us away from focusing primarily on the customer experience. These include:
- the selfish, competitive, ego-centric mindset
- the colleague-centric mindset
- the compliance mindset – where people demonstrate safe, defensive behaviours
- the busy/persecuted mindset – where every interaction is a frustration
The technical/professional mindset
One of the most common, and challenging alternative mindsets is the technical/professional mindset. Common in professionals (lawyers/accountants) as well as a broad range of technical support roles, this mindset wants to help and believes they are helping – but very much on their own terms. Attributes of the professional/technical mindset include:
- a belief that their value to the customer comes only from their technical/professional expertise or capability
- a clear focus on achieving technical/professional outcomes, with little focus on either the experience or broader personal or commercial priorities
- a focus on their own needs – to diagnose and find a solution – over the customers’ needs to feel understood, respected, to be in control, and more.
- a strong preference for discussing facts and details over customer emotions and broader context
- advice that serves to demonstrate technical competence or justify their position, rather than provide practical value
- an expectation that their recommendations are welcomed without question: they either resent or are uncomfortable the truly ‘selling’ their ideas.
- they are uncomfortable in discussing customer emotions, preferring the safety zone of their technical expertise
People with this mindset might well deliver a positive customer outcome but they might also fail to truly understand and empathise with the customer – and thereby fail to build trust in their recommendations. They might fail to appreciate customer priorities and practicalities (including time and cost) that might make their recommendations impractical. The general approach risks a lack of the rapport, trust, empathy and understanding that are the keynotes of a truly great customer experience.
The customer centric professional
The good news is that effective coaching, management and training can help those demonstrating a technical/professional mindset to understand these issues and develop a more customer centric approach. By drawing on their own experiences as customers, perhaps engaging in customer journey mapping, or (gently) encouraging them to understand customer emotions and priorities.