It’s the Customer’s Story (Not Yours)

Recently I was working with one of our teams to distribute pre-work for classes at The Iron Yard. One of our instructors (Matt Keas) included the following in his message to incoming students:

Hey IronYardians!

I’m so excited to get started and meet as a group! As a precursor to our class, I have some “pre-work” for our class. Eric, Brian, and myself will email everyone a few more times as our starting date arrives. I am very excited and extremely grateful that each of you has invited us here at The Iron Yard to share your story. I am pumped and ready to rock. (Emphasis mine.)

What a wonderful perspective and reminder: we as the business have the privilege of being invited into our customers’ stories (not the other way around). Whenever I have the opportunity to speak in front of students at The Iron Yard, I always make sure to thank them for trusting us and believing we can help them make a difference—after all, they didn’t have to choose us. We have an opportunity to make their life better. In our context, we have an opportunity to help them completely change their life—that’s not something to take lightly.

I think on some level this is a philosophical perspective: do I view my interactions with customers as more of a privilege or a right? It’s easy for me to look at the value I think we’re providing and wonder why someone wouldn’t do business with us, but that’s a fertile ground for unhealthy ego.

On one of the flights I took today one of the attendants said, “Thanks for flying with us today. We know you have choices and the fact that you chose us means a whole lot.” That could certainly be lip service, but the attitude towards the customer is on target.

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