Seeing Your Customers in a New Light

What would he see or think if you brought in Dr. Indiana Jones to help you better understand your customers?  Or, better still, if Margaret Mead or Ruth Benedict was your customer anthropology coach?

At the core, anthropology is the study of humanity.  Social or cultural anthropologists seek to understand how a culture, tribe, family or clan link together through language, myths, mores, beliefs, rituals and symbols.  What is it that makes the Cochiti, Samoans, Kurds, Navy Seals, Hell’s Angels, Hatfield’s or McCoy’s a linked clique beyond their common history or shared place?

Customers have many similarities; they also have major differences.  Their sense of sameness comes through a similar reading of signals and symbols with common interpretation.  Their differences lie in their varied reactions to the factors that make them alike.  Today’s Wired and Dangerous customers want what they want, when and how they want it.  They expect to interact with providers over multiple channels and expect fast, frictionless transactions. How do they feel about their journey through your organization?

We enjoy checking into a hotel via the front-desk, complete with its capacity to influence our room choice and amenities.  We have colleagues in the same geography doing the same role who always bypass check-in conversations via an app that allows them to get straight to their hotel room.  And, their extravert or introvert personality is far from the segmentation factor at work.

What if you carefully watched your customers in action with an eye to seeing them anew as a social clan?  What are the artifacts customers rely on to signal them through their service experience during their journey across your organization?  What role does the style or tone of website messaging and signage play in influencing what your customers see and feel?  Put on your Indiana Jones hat and see your customers in a new light for the first time.

© Chip Bell Group, 2023.  Courtesy of John R. Patterson (  Permission is given to download and distribute this article as long as it contains this copyright notice.