Middle Child Customer Experience Syndrome


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Ever since Sigmund Freud’s time, psychologists like Alfred Adler have written about the role of birth order and personality. Subsequently, researchers have even defined a cluster of behaviors which they dub the “middle child syndrome.” While I am not here to argue the merits of the label (in fact, recent data calls the concept somewhat into question), some theorists suggest that “middle children” receive a different level of parental attention when compared to the oldest or youngest child. As a result, these psychologists suggest that middle children often feel “neglected and envious”.

Ok, ok this is not a mental health blog, so what does this have to do with customer experience? Take a moment and think about which segment of your existing customer base might have a variant of the “middle child syndrome.” It’s probably not your new clients or your established high-value ones. To stretch the analogy to it’s near breaking point, new customers often garner the excitement of a newborn child and high-value established clients are often treated with the enthusiasm of a first born.

So what about the solid pack of customers who are established but often neglected or under appreciated? What are you doing to acknowledge them or are they feeling neglected and envious? How can you strategically reach out to thank mid-value yet reliable consumer groups?

Based on my experience, it seems like most people think a sibling was favored. Certainly, I have heard that from both of my children!

In business, it may even be tactical to favor high value clients (e.g. airline reward level programs) but solid customer groups should never feel that their business does not matter to you or that they could disappear and never be missed. Which “middle child syndrome” segments need your attention? What will you do?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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