Customer Disloyalty and Business as We Shift Toward Subjectivity


I had three different people recommend a book to me last week.  The book, Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose by Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe, and Jagdish N. Sheth is about a lot of things, especially the power of passion and purpose in business.  But it is also about the seemingly ever-increasing changing world we now live in.  And those changes keep coming, keep accelerating…  Change will continue, and spread.  This seems an absolute certainty.

As I read, this jumped out at me:

French Philosopher Pierre Levy, (who has devoted his professional life to studying the cultural and cognitive impacts of digital technologies) believes that the shift toward subjectivity may prove to be one of the most important considerations in business in this century.  …feelings and intuition (will) rise in stature in the common mind.

The authors point to the search of many to find deeper meaning in work, and they point to companies trying to make the world a better place.  For example:  Timberland CEO Jeffrey Swartz unabashedly says his company’s primary mission is to “make the world a better place.”  Swartz, and other leaders like him,

are resolute and successful business professionals who augment their human-centered company visions with sound management skills and an unswerving commitment to do good buy all who are touched by their companies.”

But, back to the “shift toward subjectivity.”  Consider — “Subjectivity/subjective:  reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind; lacking in reality or substance.” 

So, is this era the era of “perceived reality?”  “Perceived value?”  If it is, then people will increasingly go to the companies that give them what they perceive as valuable at this moment.  And they will change companies as quickly as that perceived value dims.  In other words, loyalty of the customer is a thing of the past.  The customer’s loyalty is only loyalty to immediate perceived value.  And once that perception disappears, that customer will start looking around for an alternative.

I realize that many people have written many times about the loss of customer loyalty.  This “era of subjectivity” just helps me understand it a little better.  And since subjectivity is the opposite of objectivity, then this helps me understand how demonstrating “objective value” is not all that effective against the now more powerful subjective perception of value.

In a more-and-more data driven world, maybe the data we most need is the data telling us how to build emotional connections and deeper subjective value.  Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it?

What a challenging age we live in…

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