• How to Align Your Self-Interest With the Customer

    Tue, 24 Nov 2015, in Customers

    Are you looking to punch more jazz into your sales pitches, galvanize your customers and entice your audience to take action?

    How to Align Your Self-Interest With the Customer

    Perhaps you’re looking to spruce up your service desk. You want to get into the minds of your customers and understand what makes them tick, but don’t know how.

    Even though you can learn a lot about your customers from parenting, getting them to stick requires a deeper understanding of human nature. Sometimes you must take some lessons from your younger self.

    When we are born, our minds are not developed enough to test and measure all the information from our environment, so we block it out and entrust our subconscious with the data gathering – the part that’s solely responsible for our self-interest. This part of the brain is only interested in what’s best for you and your survival. It’s programmed for fight or flight: viscerally responding to any threat, from immediate dangers to hunger and fear.

    Over time you realize you can draw reliable conclusions from certain observations. Crying gets you attention, the nipple is a source of food and that being close to mom means you’re safe. You also start realizing that certain methods are more or less reliable to achieving your end goals (such as throwing a tantrum when you don’t get what you want).

    As you grow older, you look to your peers. You want same (or better) toys as everyone else, you want to be popular and your talents recognized. Failing that, you’re collecting your toys and leaving the sandbox in protest. Selfishness remains squarely in place of our development structure.

    As teenage years turn into adulthood, these feelings get amplified. Take a 16 year old cook in a fast food restaurant. In a few months in, he is likely overworked, clearly underpaid (and depending on the work environment, maybe unappreciated). On one busy day, he drops a hamburger patty on the floor, picks it up, and serves it to a customer.

    This situation shows the young man everything he needs to know about greed, politicians and corporate bosses. They see workers like him the same way he sees his customers lined up at the counter: barely a cog in a system built on self-absorption.

    Why should I feel bad for them? I don’t even know those people!Cracked

    Regardless of our social standing and where we are in the world, self-interest is key to our survival and advancement. It’s also crucial for propagating relationships within our social groups: from our family members, friends, co-workers, to our bread and butter: our customers.

    The customer’s interest

    It’s clear by now that the path to success lies in aligning your own self-interest with the self-interest of others. By aligning your interests with that of your customer, you’ll be able to easily relate and then appeal to their self-interest instead of yours.

    Economists and psychologists agree that self-interest is a fluid concept. Self-interest and egoism can actually revolve around individual (or a group’s) welfare and objectives. At the same time, researchers have long tried to understand what causes us to do things for others. Surprisingly, not everything we do is driven by financial rewards:

    • Usability maximization is associated with giving for some sort of established material return afterward. This is reciprocity tied to your own self-interest, as a means to achieve your own goals. An example would be a liquor store giving out free wine samples to customers in a bid to increase sales.
    • Enlightened self-interest can be defined as furthering the interests of other will ultimately serve your own self-interest. In other words, it’s matching your self-interest with the self-interest of others. An example would be a smoothie producer seeking out a local fruit farmer rather than purchasing from an agro-business.
    • Altruism is the concern for the welfare of others. Although there are good intentions behind altruistic behavior, the outcome may not have the desired effect on the receiving party. An example would be someone volunteering their time oversees in a diplomatic mission to help orphans in a war-torn country, with the diplomatic mission ultimately deciding on the work.
    • Giving according to your moral values means your motivation lies with your personal beliefs, religious our otherwise. An example would be a church-based group holding free movie screenings in a school.
    • Some give for the sake of personal satisfaction. This isn’t connected to any motives (including religious, moral or economic) but focuses on the act itself and pleasure derived from giving.

    While economic theorists say that monetary incentivizes one’s self-interest, psychologists disagree, citing money cannot be a driver in altruistic decisions. The explanation may lie in the context of the situation. Experts agree that while people may choose to give according to their social reasons; once money is involved, we tend to do a cost-benefit analysis similar to those done by organizations in business decisions.

    The company’s interest

    As leaders, we are given the exponential task of trying to align our self-interest with multiple decision-makers in the corporate hierarchy.

    Company decision making processes are influenced by the quality, accessibility and storage of their knowledge. Companies that share and expand their knowledge for the betterment of their industry will likely be recognized, appreciated and respected among their peers. Self-interest then takes the form of enlightened self-interest at the corporate level.

    When people’s physiological needs are met, they search for fulfillment and self-advancement in other, more meaningful ways. These self-actualization drivers are indeed the most domineering of all. They drive us to succeed and propel our overachiever culture.

    Eventually however, the responsibility falls on management to mesh individual self-interests of others into a collective benefit of the company.

    So rather than trying to hide our self-interest, we should embrace it for what it really is – a powerful force for good and tool that can be used in achieving our objectives. When we mend our objectives with the objectives of similarly motivated people, we can work towards a common goal. For businesses, this should always be the customer.


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