How many times have you been your own customer?

shallow-focus photography of white cat

How many times have you been a customer of your business?

That might sound weird but so many business leaders and their employees have never actually been customers of their own company.

Why do I ask? Well, if you never do it yourself, how will you ever know what your customers must live with? And if you don’t know what your customers live with, you can’t meet them on their terms. You really cannot understand them, and you miss opportunities to make improvements that can make their lives better in a meaningful way.

This is not just for leaders by the way. Every employee should get an opportunity to experience the customers’ world. A great example of this thinking is Mercedes Benz. They have a program called DaSH, Drive a Star Home, where every employee can drive one of their cars home and use it in their day-to-day lives for 48 hours. This gives every employee the experience of what it is to own and drive their product.

So, what can you do? For some this can be as easy as going on the company website. For others, you will need to go into one of your stores, restaurants, or dealerships. If you work in healthcare, go to the hospital, doctor’s office, or clinic. Look at things from the customer perspective.

Start asking yourself questions. How do things look? Is it clean and orderly? Is it easy to find what you need? Are people helpful? What is it like to return a product? What is it like to order a product?

If you are on the website, what happens if you forget your password? How easy is it to reach out and contact a human? How intuitive is it to find information?

Essentially, what you are trying to learn is how much of a hassle it is to be your customer. If it is not easy, you need to figure out how to make it easy. If it is not enjoyable, figure out how to make it so.

Your customers are your lifeblood and how they feel when working with any of your delivery systems—these include your people, products, processes, and places, both brick-and-mortar and virtual—matters a great deal. How they feel about all these components influences an overall opinion about you and your business, and that overall opinion is what will either bring them back or chase them away.

When you know what your customers encounter, you can better serve them and make improvements. You can feel what they feel. You can see what they see. You can make your business better.

So, get out there. You and your employees go see what it really means to be your customer.

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