Business leaders see the value behind Customer Experience (CX) in a big way right now. Their enthusiasm and future aspirations are well-documented in our 2019 whitepaper, CX Planning—All for Nothing? But the focus on customers is hardly a behind-closed-doors movement. It’s apparent successful brands are building personal connections with their audience, emphasizing ease and individuality in the process. You can’t get to that point, however, without really knowing who your customer is. Now there’s even a day every quarter celebrating the endeavor, Get to Know Your Customer Day. But should it really be fewer than a handful of days a year?
LISTEN TO CUSTOMER WANTS AND NEEDS ALL THE TIME
Sure, in decades past there were many marketing movements that leaned on telling customers what they want instead of asking them. Some of those campaigns were really successful, too. Then the digital revolution happened and my… how the tables turned (horror movie scream). Today’s customer is tapped in to an ever-flowing stream of choice and opinion. They can’t be silenced—nor should they be. Hint: Listening ears are going to be mandatory from this point forward.
We’re not just talking about listening, either. We’re talking about really hearing. While developing our Customer Core® offering, our agency’s brain trust had to think a lot about the illusion behind understanding. Personas, journey maps, and the foundation used to create them have the greatest impact if they go beyond the surface level. Your customers are more than a number. They’re real, emotive individuals who, contrary to popular belief, do not all think alike. No trickery needed. Just look deeper into their psychological makeup and habits. Ask them what they want, need, and dream about. Dare to put yourself in their shoes. As an award-winning CX agency, this is what we’ve been doing all along.
STOP HYPOTHESIZING THE CUSTOMER—BECOME THEM!
Many of the most profound customer stories won’t reveal themselves to you. Find the opportunities to make a real difference in the lives of customers. I’ll never forget talking with cancer patients while working on a website for a regional healthcare system. Face to face, I got to hear different perspectives from this courageous group. Ultimately, I learned that the phrase “cancer journey” struck a negative chord with a majority of them—it felt too overwhelming and like there was no end in sight. We changed the entire site’s structure and messaging after that. What once could have been anxiety-inducing for patients transformed into a destination of hope.
These stories echo throughout all of our experiences. Associate Strategist Vaidehi Thakkar worked with a Global Appliance Manufacturing company to evolve cooking appliances for the visually impaired. In a bold but enlightening move, she attempted to cook a hamburger with a blindfold on to empathize with her customer. Later she participated in ethnographic research, studying customers in their own environments (i.e. kitchens). First and secondhand exploration of the customer experience led to an improved, life-changing product design.
UX Architect Millie Rosasco got to know customers on a deeper level while working on the Construction LifeSaver App for our partners at MindForge. The innovative app was designed to provide safety training to construction workers who face job site danger on a daily basis. Digital expert? Millie is. Industrial builder? Millie is not. So she sat down with real construction workers in one-on-one usability sessions to learn what they needed and how the app experience could be enhanced.
ADVANCING YOUR CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING
One of the false perceptions in the industry is that getting to know your customers means longer timelines and bigger budgets. Even if you don’t have the time or cash, you CAN still get to know customers on a deeper level. Think outside of the box and, importantly, think smaller in scale. For instance, Google conducted a study that says 85% of core usability problems can be determined by observing just five people using your app.
By all means, celebrate Get to Know Your Customer Day but we encourage you to celebrate every single day if you want true business impact. Need help getting started? Contact us to learn more.