Dealing with strange customer behavior? Just ask them ‘why?’

If you take one thing away from this, I hope it’s a reminder to ask why. Particularly when customers do or say things you don’t understand. You might be surprised when you find out their true motivations.

Belle Beth Cooper, formerly of Buffer, has written a bit of insight that I’m letting churn in my head for a bit.

It does seem, at time, that customers sometimes can help you realize areas that could use improvement, or even just repair, if you take a bit of time to coax a bit more information about the problem they’re having. This is as simple as a needed clarification to a wiki article on how to carry out a common task, all the way to bringing light to an unseen system bug (since no software is ever bug free).

Very interesting is how taking a technique that seems well-suited to self-inspection (the linked-to summing up of ‘The Five Whys’) seems to also be adaptable to helping customers solve their problems as well. It seems to boil down to finding out what type of habit, when repeated, does not have the desired outcome, for a several cases.

Once that’s found, then the real work begins of finding the true cause of the issue, namely, “why” the non-working habit was done, and then dealing with that cause. As noted in both places, it’s possible for the reason to be different from what the surface issue suggests.

While I’m mulling this over, I’m hoping to see more good posts from Belle and the crew over at the Crew blog, so I subscribed to their newsletter.