We often notice the most unusual things but never venture further to explore. Wouldn’t you agree? Our minds have begun to settle into a comfortable patterned way of thinking and we have lost the ability to question the unknown. We tend to accept and then be satisfied with the obviously stated. So ask yourselves: When was the last time we asked our customer, ‘why’ or ‘why not’?
Many organizations firmly believe that they have a good understanding of their customers’ expectations. The sad truth is that they are woefully disconnected. Most customers feel that their vendors do not fully understand them and do not care about their needs. Here, the ability to probe can not only help bring about clarity in a customer’s need, but also the implied needs to the surface. And we develop our questioning attitude by being curious. Contrary to our fear, questioning can help the customer to self-check their needs, the status quo and redundancies.
Curiosity is a personal quality of being open to observe and then to explore, analyze and learn, and is an indissoluble mixture of cognition and motivation. Our curiosity can be a sure source of effervescence of ideas therefore, while looking for curious people, our customers may not offer an exception to us. Let us look at some of crosscurrents that impede curiosity in us:
Contentment: A study1 states that 42% of people never read another book after graduation. This hinders knowledge acquisition but being curious may encourage us to try new ways of doing things.
Living in a silo: While we work with our customers, we tend to lock ourselves into an outsider mode and this mindset impairs our ability to gather insights of the customer’s way of doing things. We should be curious enough to find and fill gaps of where the customer is and the final goal post.
Curiosity is a personal quality of being open to observe and then to explore, analyze and learn
Risk aversion: It is possible that we may have the fear of the unknown. In the grip of this fear, people prefer to settle with traditional ways or safe methods of doing things which do not lead to being curious but to depleted new thinking and innovation. Thus, customer may not see value in it.
Obsessive subservience: Some prefer to be process-subservient and policy-directed and therefore lack instincts to question, which is the first step of being curious. Being human-designed, processes over a period of time cannot remain fault-free. With changing times, even the context changes making process context-insensitive. On the contrary, customers expect us to make them aware of the changes well in advance to remain competitive. Curious minds tap these changes well ahead of time and help the customer to take advantage of this information.
Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious”. Thankfully, one can develop this compelling skill of curiosity by:
Self-evaluation: Often, we need to ask ourselves, “When did I last probe my customer?” Probing leads to new questions and can trigger zeal in us to do something more worthwhile. Our customers will appreciate our well-intended zest and value our presence.
Being empathic to our customers: Empathy starts with understanding. Be curious to gain as much knowledge as possible about the customer’s ecosystem as it will help in appreciating customer’s perception.
Flexing our minds: Automating the mind to start with asking basic curiosity questions Why, When, Who, What, Where and How in every customer instance. These questions make one curious and develop diverse taste and interest.
Being bold to question the 'As-Is': Change is constant, but only the curious mind has something to find. View all possible things with an aim to mitigate redundancies. Develop skills to be assertive, communicate pleasantly and convince the customer that there is a need for change. A lifelong-learning habit enriches the knowledge to identify innovative solutions and solve problems paving way for our customer to perceive us as retainable resources.
When the curious-you innovates something for the customer that makes him succeed in his pursuits, the customer will reciprocate to prove, as they say, success breeds success.