The relationship with “customers”

Just read another article which objectifies people as walking bundles of money on LinkedIn.  Once again , the premise is that the customer has a want/desire/need and that they can use technology to get what they want, when they want it, how they want it.  The article is titled something like, “”The Customer As A God?..”

They don’t talk about the customer as a person with a need/want/desire, but as a transaction ready, technology enabled purchase point.  To me, this misses the bigger picture.

As a business, of course I want to make money.  It’s the reason  I got into business, isn’t it?  However, Starting my own business was more than just about money.  It was about doing something  I wanted to do.  Doing something I believe in and “making a difference”, whatever that may be.

I don’t just see other people as “customers” though.  These are people who need help.  They are wanting a service or a product to get something taken care of in their personal life or at work.   I happen to offer that product or service and so often,  I get to be the one to help.

Does help come for free? Not usually.  Am I trying to get rich, one person at a time?  Not really.  It’s still all based on trade.  Instead of trading eggs for vegetables, or whatever, we trade money for products and services.  To me, trade means there is more than just a transaction.   I like getting a fair deal, more than that though,  I want to be sure the person I am helping is getting what they need to solve the problem at hand.  That’s why they came to me in the first place.  Not just to give me money, but to solve a problem.   I am here to help solve problems, the money is just one part of the whole relationship.

It is a relationship too.  Not just a one time deal.  By being able to help the person be successful in solving the problem at hand,  I want to let them know they can come to me in the future with similar problems and feel comfortable in knowing they will get a fair deal and a real solution.

So,  I don’t believe in objectifying people as “customers”, because  I don’t want to fall into that mind trap of thinking of people as walking bundles of money.

It’s disrespectful to the people who come to me and it’s disrespectful to my own business.

BTW,  I don’t believe “the customer is always right” either.  They aren’t always right and it is yet another trap in which to objectify people as transaction opportunities.

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  1. Pingback: Doc Searls Weblog · Oh god, part N

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