Andy’s Snickers bar experience shows us why customers can drive us nuts
There is, of course, a big difference between an anaphylactic shock as a result of eating nuts and the hurt you get from a customer who drives you nuts. But yet, both experiences share the same place in your brain ready for instant recall. The difference is that one recall could save your life whole the other recall could cause serious damage to your customer relationship.
Not everyone shares my passion for a Snickers bar
Offer one to my friend Andy and he’ll immediately recoil in horror. He might even utter a few expletives at the same time: ‘Get those xxxxxxx nuts away from me!’
The reason for this immediate and intense reaction is that Andy has a severe nut allergy. One evening at a party when he’d consumed one or two more beers than he should have, he accidentally munched on a Snickers bar. Moments later he was gasping for breath.
Andy, like us all, has a deep recess somewhere in his brain where said brain stores all his bad experiences ready for instant recall.
It's his brain’s way of protecting him - it's part of his natural survival instinct. He sees a Snickers bar and at once his brain recalls that bad experience and puts him in to ‘fight/flight’ mode.
Customers can drive us nuts too!
Let's say for example that you had a phone call from your customer, Mrs Smith a couple of weeks ago, and it didn't go well. Mrs Smith got angry with you and she called you ‘incompetent’.
Today, a phone rings in your office, your colleague takes the call and announces that ‘Mrs Smith wants to talk to you.’ It’s very likely that you will either think or voice something like this: ‘Oh no not her again… tell her I'm busy.’
In other words, your brain assumes that, because it went wrong last time, it’s going to go wrong this time. Moreover, it’s trying to protect you from the hurt that you felt before by putting you in fight/fight mode.
There is, of course, a big difference between an anaphylactic shock as a result of eating nuts and the hurt you get from a customer who drives you nuts.
Though both bad experiences get stored in the same part of the brain ready for instant recall. Which means that; “Get those xxxxxxx nuts away from me!” and ‘Oh no not her again… tell her I'm busy’, share the same cranial home.
But while one reaction is necessary because it could save your life, the other one isn’t necessary at all. In fact, it’s very counterproductive.
By having these immediate negative thoughts your mindset towards your customer will be negative. You’ll anticipate a bad outcome even before you’ve opened your mouth. And that makes it very likely that you’ll have a bad outcome.
The lesson here?
Customers are not Snickers bars. They won’t give you an instant, serious medical condition. Rather they’re human beings subject to good days and bad days. Sometimes they don’t listen. Sometimes their behaviour is irrational. Much like you in fact.
Don’t let customers drive you nuts
If you feel yourself having an ‘Oh no not her again’ moment when you receive a call, email or letter from a customer, take a moment to gather your thoughts. This will enable you to put that fight/flight to bed before you engage your mouth or place your fingers on that keyboard