Customer experience

Put Your Customer's Shoes On!

by Errol Allen

Take a fresh look at the service you provide by examining your organization from the customer's perspective..
 

How often have you as a consumer grumbled about a not so great customer experience?

The product or service did not meet your expectation. The service provider was a little curt during the interaction. It was somewhat difficult to locate the items you wanted to purchase. The website was not very user-friendly. An issue was resolved in a less than timely manner.

These are just a few items that can cause a customer to refrain from doing business with your organization.

In knowing how you feel when in the "consumer mode", how about "putting your customer's shoes on" and examining your organization from the customer's perspective.

Here are a few ways to do this..

Put Your Customer's Shoes On and call your organization to see what your customer encounters. Is the receptionist robotic or pleasant and courteous? It's important to put the right person in front of your customer. Did you know that your receptionist or other persons answering the phone are the face of your organization?

This initial encounter is an opportunity to make a lasting impression on a customer. What about that other robot - the interactive voice response system (IVR)? Are the menus user-friendly or do you become confused or worn out? If it's confusing to you, it's probably confusing to your customer.

Put Your Customer's Shoes On and visit your organization. Can they easily spot your organization's signage? In what conditions is that signage? Is it visible during your evening hours? The next step for most customers is your parking lot. In what condition is it? Is it well-lit for evening hour customers? Depending upon your industry (the medical industry comes to mind - hospitals, clinics, doctors' office, etc), distance from your parking lot to your organization's entrance may be an issue for your customer. Taking that into consideration and your customer, is there adequate parking available? What options can you think of that may improve the exterior experience for your customer?

Now let's go inside. What does the customer see upon entering? What about your interior signage? If there is a receptionist available, is he or she pleasant? (You may have to observe this behavior from a distance.) Is it easy to locate items or specific areas within your facility? If it's difficult for you, it's probably difficult for your customer.

Put Your Customer's Shoes On and go to your organization's website.  Attempt to make a purchase just as your customer would. How easy is it to do so? Were you allowed to confirm what you were purchasing? Did you receive a confirmation of your purchase and expected delivery date? Did you get a follow-up email providing tracking information? Are items easy to locate on your website? Is the information regarding your products and services up to date? Is that information clear and easily understandable? Is the information free from industry acronyms and unexplained jargon? Are all of the links fully functional?

Whatever you experienced, your customer is experiencing the same. If your site offers web chat, put on your customer's shoes and chat with your organization. Is the "conversation" tone friendly and upbeat? Are you asked open-end questions that allow you to elaborate about your reason for chatting? Does the chat person able to quickly provide the information to address your needs or issue? Again, whatever you experience, your customer is probably experiencing the same.

Put Your Customer's Shoes On and file a complaint. Try doing this via the phone, website email or chat. How long does it take for your complaint to be acknowledged? What type of questions are you asked in regards to your complaint? What steps are taken to resolve the issue? How long does it take to resolve the issue? Once again, whatever you experience, your customer probably experiences the same.

Remember, it's important to know what your customer is experiencing when interacting with your organization. To get their perspective - Put Your Customer's Shoes On!

About the Author

Errol has held positions as an Internal Customer Service Consultant, Call Center Quality Manager and Operations Analyst and understands the need for a "systems" orientation to providing excellent customer service. Errol has also designed customer service training programs for the "front line" associate to ensure employee confidence when interacting with customers. Info: http://www.errolallenconsulting.com.