Are your customers as different as our two boys?
I was discussing children the other day with a new friend. Our eldest is on the austistic spectrum - he has Aspergers - and my friend was fascinated with what this meant.
So I was telling her about life with Jack as a baby. Basically up until about 14 months he was, literally, perfect. He slept through from 10 weeks and would play happily by himself for hours at a time. When we were out he would chuckle constantly and complete strangers would come up to make a fuss of him.
Having bought a good parent guide (basically a manual for bringing up baby!) we thought this behaviour was all down to our skills as wonderful parents!
However the health visitors were concerned he wasn't meeting some of the expected milestones - no babbling or talking, not responding to instructions etc.
As an example, Jack didn't talk until he was nearly 3 - something which caused a lot of frustration for him - and when he did start talking, he just came straight out with full sentences. And he could read and do basic sums at about the same time as he started talking - something we thought was normal for a 3 year old until told otherwise by the nursery!
And up until we had our second, our only experience was Jack.
But boy, oh boy, were we in for a shock!
Our second came out screaming and didn't stop until he was nearly two! Complete strangers would cross the street to avoid him.
He didn't sleep through the night until he was nearly two and a half and only then started to wake up without crying!
However he started babbling at 12 months and, in between screaming, would say "Mama" and "Dada" as most average toddlers do. Something we hadn't had with Jack and which we found wonderful.
And then there was teaching him to read - a whole new experience for me. I'll never forget the thrill and intricate plot lines of 'Fat Cat Sat on a Mat' - what a gripping page turner!
So why am I telling you this?
Well, we expected our experience with Oliver to be very similar to our experience with Jack. They were both babies so they would both be very similar - right? Wrong.
We love them both and are incredibly proud of them but they couldn't be more like chalk and cheese.
And I think sometimes it's easy to make the same mistake with customers. You set up systems to make your business much more efficient (and I'm a great believer in the power of systems) but you can then forget that each customer is also an individual - and, just sometimes, stepping outside of the norm can make all the difference.