Be Your Customer
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Practice empathy to see your customer’s business from their point of view.
- Identify business needs based on your customer research.
Now that you know a bit more about your customer, it’s time to learn what makes them tick. That’s where step two of customer-centric discovery, Be Your Customer, comes in. This step involves empathy, curiosity, and engagement.
Being your customer leads to really awesome breakthroughs—it just takes a little work to get there.
Empathy takes some practice to do it well, although the concepts are pretty straightforward. Here’s how you do it:
- Identify common ground. Find something your customer does that’s relatable for you.
- Develop a genuine interest in your customer’s business. Take that relatable idea and figure out how you might feel if you were involved in the story. Imagine you’re the customer or an employee, for example.
- Look for shared experiences. Think about how you can respond in a way that makes sense to your customer. Start to think about how you’ve solved problems like theirs in the past.
Practice empathy as you go through the rest of this discovery step and take note of how you feel along the way. Are you confused? Happy? Bored? Any emotion is valid and helps you see the business from your customer's point of view.
Your customer’s on-the-ground reality goes beyond what is said about them in the news, in reviews, on their website, and in their annual reports. This is why you want to check out the details and see things from their point of view. Consider visiting their offices, call centers, manufacturing facilities, or distribution centers. Get to know their business routines. Ask employees questions about how they do what they do. Adjust your angle to get more views and possibly capture something they haven’t noticed yet.
Study the business and get an inside look at what it’s like to be a:
- Service representative—shadow a call center agent.
- Salesperson—interview a member of their sales team.
- Operations or supply chain team member—tour their distribution center or visit their manufacturing facility.
As you do this, remember that in today’s fast-paced world, one error in any process—think incorrect personalization or one bad customer service experience—can end a consumer’s relationship with a brand or business. This is why these details are so important.
Business has changed in big ways. Consumers have higher expectations, and they want more for their money. That’s why customers need to stay on top of their consumers’ experiences.
You can help customers by acting like their consumers and reporting what you learn. How?
- Shop on their website.
- Visit their store, observe shoppers, and talk to employees.
- Sign up for their online newsletters and notifications.
- Call customer service.
Try as many ways as possible to experience your customer’s business. As you do, ask yourself:
- Is there a direct relationship between your customer and their consumer, or are there multiple steps in between?
- What’s the relationship between your customer’s supplier/distributor/marketer and the consumer?
- Can relationships be improved at any part of the process?
With this information at your fingertips, it’s easier to figure out how connected your customer is to their consumers.
After learning as much as he can about Cloud Kicks and talking with the CIO, Alan puts the Be Your Customer step to work. He organizes a visit to the Cloud Kicks factory with the CIO.
Alan meets a Cloud Kicks employee who talks about their team’s struggles with connecting their inventory with their customer-facing website and processing systems.