So, you think you know your customers? Think again.
As an employee, it’s tempting to assume you know how your customers feel, especially if you use your company’s product or service yourself. The truth is, customers experience and perceive things very differently than employees in the very same situation. To deliver the optimal experience from a customer’s viewpoint, it’s important to wear your customer hat when thinking about improvement.
But, maybe this doesn’t mean what you think it means. Instead of trying to THINK like a customer, donning the customer hat may mean doing whatever it takes to genuinely understand their ACTUAL expectations, experiences, pain points and areas of delight. Whether you are a new employee or a 20-year veteran, you will find a gold mine of opportunities you never expected.
Why can’t I think like a customer?
For one – you know the product. You know how the business works. You know how things are supposed to work. You know what to do when they don’t work. And what about your industry knowledge?
All of these things are included in your frame of reference, clouding your ability to be objective and to experience the product like a customer would.
So what are the risks of assuming I understand my customer’s experience?
Consequences can be tough with lasting impact. Companies continually underestimate the level of frustration their customers are experiencing, resulting in failure to act promptly and earnestly.
Teams have also been known to create solutions to the wrong problem – leading to investments that don’t pay off. Additionally, you could simply miss out on opportunities you didn’t know existed!
Decision making in the dark
Too often, bad decisions are made when companies start with their own preconceived ideas of customer wants and needs. They imagine what customers want and then collect the evidence to validate their opinions.
We recommend turning that process upside down. Use actual voice of the customer. There are no substitutions. Without it, it’s impossible to see things from a customer’s perspective.
Start by gathering feedback (we like to call this “discovery”). These activities vary depending on the goal. When improving processes, you might observe customers interacting with your product or hearing from them after the fact through surveys or interactions with a call center. (Text analysis from Feedback Ferret makes sifting through the feedback much easier and faster.)
When innovating, learn more about customer habits. Find out what happens before and after the customer interacts with your brand or product to identify old problems and new opportunities.
This exploration will lead to clarity in your decision-making, and hopefully, a “lightbulb moment” that will propel you ahead of your competitors.
The power of customer feedback
So, next time you’re in a meeting discussing strategic and operational changes to improve the customer experience, make sure you put your customer hat on the right way. Let the insight from customer feedback dictate the decisions.
Not only will the feedback increase your confidence in doing the right thing, it will help influence others and gain consensus.
Your customers are an invaluable resource – never underestimate the power of their voice!
Start wearing your customer hat!