To create a good customer experience you need to be able to put yourself in the customer's shoes.
But you also need to be grounded in what actual customers expect and experience.
When You Assume...
When you put your "customer hat" on, are you trying to come to a genuine understanding of specific customer issues and feedback, or are you imagining what a customer might think based on your own assumptions?
As the old saying goes, when you "assume" you make an "ass of U and me."
It's tempting to try to think about the customer's perspective, but customers have a very different experience than employees. Crossing the chasm between an insider's perspective and a customer's perspective is almost impossible without customer feedback. For example:
- Employees understand how the company works, and customers don't.
- Employees understand industry jargon, and customers don't.
- Employees know why certain policies exist, and customers don't.
- Employees have experience navigating their company's bureaucracy, and customers don't.
These differences in perspective can create blind spots when you try to understand the customer's viewpoint.
Understanding the Customer's Experience
To really put yourself in the customer's shoes, you should:
- Begin with customer feedback, not you or your team's ideas of what customers are thinking.
- Take the view that each customer's perspective is reasonable, and trust what they're telling you.
- Expect that different customers have different experiences. When customers have conflicting opinions, both are equally valid.
- Work to understand why some customers might feel differently about your customer experience than you do.
- Understand what parts of your customer experience may be painful to customers even though they make sense to people inside your organization.
This puts the voice of the customer front and center where it belongs. Too often, companies will take the opposite approach: beginning with their own preconceived ideas, they imagine what they think customers want and then collect customer feedback to validate their opinions.
And while customers and employees may agree about many customer experience problems--things that are painful to customers are often also painful to employees--the insider perspective is usually incomplete.
So when you put that customer hat on, make sure you're not putting it on backwards.