One of the things you’re supposed to work out some time in your adolescence is that though you’re the star of your own life, you’re not the star of anyone else’s. Some companies never work this out.
A few years ago I worked on a project to make a video-on-demand service for a big UK supermarket chain. All of the supermarket execs kept saying things like ‘our customer’ or 'the Sainsco customer’. After a while, I worked out what bothered me about this. I do indeed go to one of their shops - or at least I think I do. I’m actually not 100% sure if it’s a Tesco or a Sainsbury. I buy food there every week, but I don’t consider myself their customer - at least not in the sense they meant it. Rather, it’s one of 10 shops I go to in a week, and one of 20 errands I might run.
In other words, your customers’ relationships with you are the only relationships you have as a business and you think a lot about them. But you’re one of a thousand things your customer thinks about in a week, and one of dozens of businesses. And they probably have their own ideas about how they want to engage with you (though they wouldn’t put it in those words) - assuming they think about you at all. - Benedict Evans, “Glass, Home and solipsism”, ben-evans.com
Ben Evans dives into a critique of Google Glass and its island of self-isolation that it’s built on that equates to solipsism. The part I found most relevant was the intro (the quote above).
As many front end developers, I’ve had to function as a consultant to customers. I’m not sure where it begins, (Marketing?) but I’ve had far too many conversations about “our customers”. I find myself agreeing with the above but with an exception.
The only companies that earn “our customers” are ones that people derive their self identity from and willingly promote the company proudly… (luxery automotives, fashion brands, sports teams and of course, Apple) but even that’s oversimplification.