If you want to be customer centric, you have to take their walk.

Image result for lucile packard children's hospital

The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA is redefining customer centricity. The entire hospital experience is viewed from a child’s perspective, a sick child’s perspective. Think for a moment, if you were one of these kids, afraid and in pain, what’s something you’d want? You’d probably want to be distracted from all the things troubling you. So that’s just what the designers thought about, distractions kids would enjoy.

Imagine an MRI machine that looks like an aquarium. Imagine rooms decorated like a beach. Imagine starry lights in the shape of animal constellations dotting the roof of your room. Imagine a large electronic screen with animal imagery that moves and changes as you interact with it. Do you think that’s cool? I certainly do and I’m way past being a kid so I’m sure they do. Somebody definitely took the walk of a sick child when they designed this place.

Taking this walk and thinking or rethinking things based on it is what I like to call extreme customer centricity. It’s designing the customer experience with total empathy. It defines what it is to put yourself in the shoes of someone else, feel their pain as best you can, and create ways to make it smooth, easy, and painless.

So what about you as a business leader? Do you know what your customers experience? Do you have a real understanding of what they go through? Do you have a sense of their journey that includes what they encounter prior to and following their interaction with you? It’s not enough to see your customers’ travels as only consisting of their interaction with your company. You must think about the things they think about on the way to you and on their way from you.

Think about the start of their journey. It starts well before they meet you. What decisions must they make? What things do they know? What things don’t they know? What are their fears and struggles? Have you ever walked the walk they take?

And what about the so-called after-experience? What might they have trouble with? Where could they use easy assistance or more information? When might a follow up call be welcome? Have you ever taken your product home and used it like your customers do? Have you called for help? Have you had to navigate problem solving or the request for a part? Again, have you walked their walk?

Maybe its time to take a page from Undercover Boss and play the role of customer. Inasmuch as you can, think like a customer who knows little about you and is looking for your product. What do you have to do to learn about your business and find you? What questions do you have? What frustrations do you have in the process of getting to your business?

Likewise, take your product for a spin. How does it work? Pretend you have a problem and seek out help. How easy is it? Is there any runaround? Is there work you have to do, forms to fill out, codes to write down, etc.? How many times do you have to repeat your story or your account number, serial number, etc.? In short, how much of a pain is it to deal with your company?

If no one in your business does this, there’s not a chance that you’ll really be able to empathize. There’s no way you can understand the pain. There’s no chance of customer centricity much less extreme customer centricity. If you want to understand your customers, take the walk they take.

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