Following Mandisa Makubulo's example of the power of including customers from all backgrounds and abilities, I share four tools to build empathy when designing services.
Why do so many organisations consider the customer experience only after it goes wrong?
It all starts with a great idea. The app or product that will transform lives (and make its inventor lots of money). With time the emotional and intellectual costs of running a business steal time and focus. Raising investments, managing staff add to the burden of an entrepreneur. Dealing with the requirements of distributors – be that an online retailer or app store. Little wonder many forget the end customer, until the end customer shouts and screams to be heard.
1% inspiration, 99% perspiration – when Albert Einstein said this, he wasn’t thinking of the work required to run a business. You might need quantum mechanics to find the proportion of inspiration needed to be self-employed.
So, we muddle along. We respond to online reviews. We buy a system to ‘chat’ with customers. We give away subscriptions, materials and profits and hope to stem the tide.
We are so focused on how we have decided to do things that we let future customers share the same poor experience.
We dread revisiting processes and suppliers and continue to work in the same way.
We plan our next generation, pulling forward timescales and building in many of the same issues.
We look up ways of managing reviews and reinforce the downward spiral.
If you are somewhere in this vicious circle, there is a way out. A way to:
- Use customer feedback to improve current products and services.
- Delight customers by listening to them.
- Get ahead of your competition by enlisting the inspiration of your customer base.
But so few organisations work this way, so do we have to rip up the way we work and start again? Quick fixes can buy some breathing space – and provide a firm foundation for a customer-oriented organisation.
Ask everyone who speaks with a customer to list the top five things that compromise customer satisfaction. Don’t impose any constraints.
Group the outcomes and understand them. Do not accept ‘no fault found’ or its service based equivalent. For example, I used to bank with an organisation that only let me see the last calendar month online. My book-keeping takes place mid-month. They told me to do my bookkeeping on the last day of the month. In their eyes, there was no fault with their system. It worked as designed.)
Work out which problems you can afford to fix (and can’t afford to continue).
Get on with it.
It takes a lot of guts to accept we are not satisfying our customers and that we must change. This short series of posts shows some of the behaviours that enhance our ability to deliver excellent customer experiences.