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Annette Franz

Customer Care

Imagine That You’re a Human....

Best tip ever for customer experience design?

Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2018 - 12:03

‘Imagine for a second that you’re a human.... ” Yikes! Now there’s a crazy statement to make during a customer experience design session. However, more companies need to start thinking this way.

Sadly, there is no shortage of stories about customers being treated badly, even inhumanely. The one that always—instantly—comes to mind is the one of the poor doctor who got dragged off that United flight just a year ago. If there’s ever a Would You Do That to Your Mother? moment, that is certainly it.

How does something like that even happen?

What’s crazy to me is that we are all humans! (At least, most days I think we are.) And we are all customers! So what happens when we walk into the doors of our employers’ offices? What happens when we cross that threshold from not-yet-clocked-in to on-the-clock? Do we forget that we’re all humans? Do we forget that we’re customers, too? Do we get dragged down by the corporate culture we work in day in and day out? Does that culture suck the empathetic life out of us? How can we treat each other so poorly?! There’s really no excuse that ever makes it OK to not deliver a great customer experience to the customer in front of you.

Need help putting the human lens back onto your customers? Try doing these three things:
Listen. Don’t just ask customers about the experience; listen, as well. There are a lot of different channels and ways for customers to tell you about their needs and desired outcomes and how well you are performing against their expectations. Understanding these expectations and identifying key drivers of a great customer experience are important outcomes of this exercise.
Characterize. Research your customers. Identify the jobs they are trying to do. Compile key personas that represent the various types of prospects and customers who (might) buy from you or who use your products or services.
Empathize. Walk in your customers’ shoes to get a clear understanding of the steps they take to do whatever job it is they are trying to do with your organization. Map their journeys to understand the current state of the experience.

And it’s not just how customers are treated. Think about employees, too. Richard Branson says: Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. So yes, when you don’t take care of employees and ensure that they have a great experience, bad things can happen to your customers and to your business. Empathy for customers begins with empathy for employees.

How can you put the human lens back on employees? Use those same three steps. And remember that a great experience isn’t about free beer and ping-pong tables. It’s about truly caring for your employees. Treating them like family. Making sure they have a career path; know their growth and development options and opportunities; receive feedback and coaching; feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work; understand the effect they make on the business; know that their work matters; and feel valued, trusted, respected, and cared for.

All of that stems from a culture that values and respects people, both employees and customers, as humans—and a leadership team that, in Bob Chapman’s words, views employees not as cogs in their wheels to success but measures success by how they touch people’s lives.

I’ll leave you with an Acura commercial that I just saw recently. The tagline is: When you don’t think of them as dummies, something amazing happens. It gives me chills every time I watch it.

So, as you’re designing processes, developing and testing products, writing an email, or answering the phone, think for a second. Take a moment (or two or three) to consider the humans on the other end, the humans who are going to use the product, receive the email, or rely on you to solve their problems. Then put yourself in their shoes. Don’t think of them as dummies. Think of them as fellow human beings who deserve better. Ensure their best interests are at heart—with every interaction.

“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”
—Alfred Adler

First published on the CX Journey blog.

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About The Author

Annette Franz’s picture

Annette Franz

Annette Franz, CCXP is founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. She’s got 25 years of experience in both helping companies understand their employees and customers and identifying what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and the overall experience – so that, together, we can design a better experience for all constituents. She's an author (she wrote the book on customer understanding!), a speaker, and a customer experience thought leader and influencer. She serves as Vice Chairwoman on the Board of Directors of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and is an Advisory Board member for CX@Rutgers.