Will you change to the whim of the few?


Building a customer strategy based on the singular reactions of a handful of people is not smart.

This occurred to me when I watched a short youtube video on a company that was building out its online customer journey. They were given feedback on how they were trying to please everyone. In the end-up, they were pleasing no-one and confusing their more loyal fan base.

The fledgeling online company was making itself extremely busy. They were burning through cash and stressing out their administration team, who had to change tactically, every day, on the whim of a few customers.

The leader was feeling clever because he considered himself the smartest man in the room. His view was he asked the questions and pushed (bullied) people to find solutions. 

It never occurred to him the problems were his to cause. When called out, his arrogance deflected the obvious.

The company was eventually bought over for ‘ten cents on the dollar.’ 

Pride before the fall. The ego is the enemy.

After reflecting on this and having a follow-up conversation with a friend, they shared a simple video with me to highlight how people can react to things in general.

In the video, an Economics Teacher enters the classroom and writes several equations on the board. He ignores the classroom of students until he can no longer. 

You see, the students were beginning to stir, they had spotted something on the board that wasn’t right, so they were being galvanised into action. 

The ordinarily sedate students were getting more and more agitated. The Teacher wrote more equations on the board until the rustling of unrest became too much to ignore.

He turned to face his class full of students, and he asked what was wrong, why the escalation in noise. Several students shot up their hands right away. Some of them had not engaged with the Teacher for weeks and were often disengaged. Now they were interested.

‘Sir’, they said, ‘The second equation is wrong.‘ everyone erupted in agreement and the rowdy students smugly aligned with the vocal student that had called out the apparent mistake. 

They had aligned in their revolt against the Teacher.

‘Yes, of course’, the Teacher replied. ‘This is today’s lesson.

He went on…

‘This is how life is. You could do many right things in life, a vast number of right things, but the people around you and those who interact with you will zone in on the things you will do wrong. They will seek to highlight the wrong and ignore all of the rights. They will seek alignment with others on your wrongs, and they will build momentum against you if you do not change. When something is so obviously wrong, as this equation is, then it is correct that they should do this, and you should listen. If this is your customer base, then you should listen for sure.’ 

‘When the crowd screams out the obvious, then you should take corrective action. However, did anyone notice that I didn’t put the full stop at the end of the sentence that I have written?’

The classroom fell into silence.

He asked again.

‘Did anyone notice the missing full stop?’

No reply.

‘You see, the full stop is important. Who knows if the sentence is finished or if I had something else to write even more important than what I had already written. Why do you think no one spotted the mistake at the end of the sentence?’

Crickets.

‘I actually wrote the full stop and erased it. Did anyone notice the I did that?’

The class fell into confused silence until the Teacher asked the more vocal student to answer.

Because I was distracted by the first mistake and…‘ she hesitated, 

‘…Maybe because this is an Economics lesson and not an English lesson, and the full stop isn’t that important.’

‘Bingo!’, the Teacher said. 

‘In life and in Business, as with customers, distractions are plenty, and context is everything.’

‘Lesson ended.’ He finished his class.

My take away from both examples.

Build an outstanding service level based on satisfying the many, so they explode with praise for what you do. Put the correct context around the few that cry wolf on the missing full stop. 

You will find that often they will probably be holding the blackboard eraser in their own hands.

And have ink on their fingers.


Walk around a Beijing Park and catch up with a little insight from Jay Shetty.

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