Understanding Customers: Part Two

Beliefs and misconceptions ...

POSTED BY ADAM FOX ON 12/01/2017 @ 9:00AM

This is part two of a series to help you understand your customers better. If you haven't already, you should read part one because it covers the biggest misconception about behaviour; that we are all 100% in control all of the time ...

Understanding customers is really difficult. What they believe can be completely different to you!

Understanding customers is really difficult. What they believe can be completely different to you!

copyright: lightwise / 123rf stock photo (licensee)

To start part 2, we all agree that:

  1. The Great Wall of China can be seen from space

  2. Chameleons can change colour to hide

  3. You lose more heat from your head

  4. Your tongue has separate 'zones' for each taste

  5. Peanuts are nuts

  6. Coffee is made from beans

  7. Vikings had horns or wings on their helmets

  8. Sushi means 'raw fish'

  9. Goldfish have a three-second memory

  10. Bats are blind

  11. The colour red makes bulls angry

  12. People have five senses

Except, none of those things are true; they're all common misconceptions. Statistically, there's a good chance you believe at least one of those things. I don't mind telling you that I believed more than one until a few minutes ago.

They're called peanuts and coffee beans, so they must be nuts and beans. Red must make bulls angry because they charge that red cape. Whenever you see Vikings in a movie they have horns or wings on their helmet, so that must be what Vikings wear. And so on.

"That hints at the most common reason for misconceptions!"

They simply seem like the right answer and no one bothers to check if they actually are and then we all share and pass them on. But, what does that have to do with understanding customer behaviour?

We touched on this in part one and we're covering it in more detail because it's probably your biggest hurdle.

Your customers are all humans and this is usually the main difficulty when talking and learning about human behaviour; the conversation and ability to learn are influenced by our personal assumptions based on our own experiences.

For example, when you first learn that the capital of England is London, you had no reason to believe that wasn't true; however, you might have done if you held another belief.

"Perhaps your dad told you the capital of England was E?"

But, you do have that when it comes to human behaviour; we all have a set of beliefs or opinions based on our experience and our upbringings about why we do things, how we think about things or why we like the things we like. The trouble is that science says some of those are misconceptions, just like assuming coffee beans are beans (they're seeds by the way).

Part one provides us with an excellent example; conscious and unconscious thought, which is why we started there. I'm sure that - like me - you feel like you are fully in control of your actions?Sometimes you do something like have an extra piece of cake or stay up too late on a school night, but you choose to do that, right? Are you sure?

If you want to research this for yourself there are some excellent articles such as this one, TED talks like this one and I'd recommend Dr David Eagleman's book Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain because you don't have to be a doctor or neuroscientist to read it (plus, I can lend it to you on Kindle).

If you prefer we saved you the time (which is what The Office Genie does), the answer is probably not. The science doesn't know how much, but it certainly shows that we should always question our thoughts, opinions, assumptions; they might be misconceptions. That applies to our beliefs about customer behaviour too.

"We trust our experience and the opinions that we form as a result. The question to keep in mind is, should we?"

However, if you're sure you can trust your own mind then maybe consider optical illusions. Optical illusions trick your eyes and fool you into something that seems like the right answer. There are all sorts of 'Illusions' you can do at home (or at work) for all of your senses and if your eyes, nose and ears can be tricked and fool you, can you really be sure you can trust your brain?

We're not scientists or experts, but we think it's a fascinating discussion. We'd love to know what you think, so leave us a comment below, get us on Twitter or just give us a call on 01604 529 170.

Until next time




More about Adam Fox ...

The decade and a bit for which I've worked has been split equally between retail and offices; I worked as management in retail, and I was a junior project manager in an office. However, I struggled to find job satisfaction, so I attended University as a mature student and earned an English degree with first-class honours.

I joined The Office Genie in August 2016, which is a huge opportunity for me and I'm working hard to make the most of it. I'm finding that satisfaction I was looking for doing creative, challenging, engaging work I'm passionate about for a company I can really get involved with. From my experience at work and in my personal life, I've cultivated a well-developed and varied skillset which I'm keen to apply.

I've been lucky enough in my personal life to be exposed to lots of experiences with great people in a variety of settings. From Scouting to travel to computing and even to headlining a stage or two, most of the pastimes which I enjoy share the common elements of teamwork, learning, storytelling and analysis. I have a deep passion for art, puzzles, games, stories, language, communication and collaboration, which I love to share in great detail. On a completely unrelated note, I also love my very patient wife.


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