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Assumptions about Customers

What do customers of the organisation pay money for, or why do customers use the services of an organisation? Every organisation makes assumptions about this: assumptions about who their customers are, about what the customer values, about what chases them away, about what they will or must put up with. Sometimes, even the assumptions about who their customers are, can be most revealing.

These assumptions are usually controversial in organisations and the agreement about them is a meaningful part of their stabilisation and coordination. They usually attempt to objectify their own assumptions with data (market research, customer surveys), which pushes the problem to the interpretation of the data. Whether customers react to speed and innovation, thoroughness, reliability, durability or price or market value or everything together – hypotheses and assumptions remain. Thus it is surprising how strongly the organisation members and whole departments have identified with the prevailing assumptions: “This is how customers think!”. Such an over-identification is usually dangerous, because it carries with it a loss of alternatives and impedes the communication with those who think differently. Particularly in interaction with guiding decisions, the motto “Could it not be completely different?” should be born in mind.