When it comes to taking your client experience up to the highest level, it often means putting yourself in your client’s place. It means understanding what they think, what they feel, what they experience, and what they endure when they work with you.
Are there Smudges On Your Glass?
The other day when I was at the optometrist’s office I was looking through those goofy contraptions that have a variety of clicking glass options and say if A or B is better. And as I kept saying A or B, I noticed something – a lot of fingerprints on the glass.
At first notice I thought, no biggie, fingerprint smudges on glass. Pretty ordinary and benign. I know my house is chock full of them. But after thinking about it longer, I realized that although smudges aren’t a big deal usually, in this case it could actually cause someone to answer A or B differently than they otherwise would have. If done enough, it could possibly cause a change in an eyeglass or contact prescription. Now, that, is a much bigger deal.
But the point of this isn’t to say that my optometrist needs a better cleaning crew or cleaning solution, but it is to say, how would they ever even know about the smudges? Unless a patient, or until a patient, speaks up and says, “by the way, the glass is smudged and I can’t see very well through it” the doctor and her staff will never know. And as most people won’t be doing that as it would come off as rude, myself included, on the doctor goes with smudged glass on her prescription tool.
However, there is one other thing that can be done. There is one other way the doctor or her staff would know about these prescription changing smudges – regularly doing a walk through of a patient’s time in the space.
Experience “the Other Side”
Now if you’ve ever been some place and thought, wow, this bathroom is awful, or wow, these chairs are so uncomfortable, and then wondered why management hasn’t done anything about it. Well, its often not because of a lack of care. Its because of a lack of knowledge.
So often at our place of business what we do, use, and experience as an employee, is different than what the client does, uses, and experiences. Often there are staff bathrooms and client bathrooms, staff parking and client parking, staff chairs and client chairs, and never the twain shall meet.
But, is that really such a great idea? Is it wise to have separate everything and to never experience “the other side?” To never experience what your client experiences? To never find out if there’s something that could literally be changing how you provide your services to clients, or to know how they’re forming their impression of their time with you? Well, as you can easily see from above, no. It’s not.
Live a Day in the Life of Your Client
In everything you do, you want to make sure that you’re not just looking at it from your side, but also the client’s side. If you have an office or retail store, where will the client park? How does it look? Is it easy to get in and out of? Are the spaces riddled with cracks and overgrown weeds? What about the front door? You might enter from a back door, but what does the front entryway look like? Then when you enter your office or store, what do you first see? Smell? Walk on? Experience?
If it’s just an office, sit down in the chairs where clients wait. How comfortable are they? Are they worn out? If you give clients water in client specific glasses, pour yourself a glass. Is the glass too heavy? Or cloudy? Is it overly scratched? Now tour the rest of the office, just as a client coming in for the first time would. What do you notice – about the conditions of staff desks, client chairs in your office or the conference room, anything else?
Keep going until you have a full picture. Keep going until you have a day in the life of a client whose visiting your office. Everywhere they go, you go, take note, and make changes as needed.
Everything they Experience, You Should Experience
And you don’t have to just stop there. It doesn’t just have to be about the client walking in your physical space. You can extend this farther – into their digital experience. Go onto your site and click around the way a prospect would. Create a checklist of things that the prospect is likely to look for – contact information, services, the design process, an about page, is it all there? Is it easy to find? Ask a friend to do the same, what did they experience?
Then if you have a newsletter or blog, sign up for it. What happens? How long is the wait time between signing up and receiving a confirmation email? And where did it end up, in your inbox or the junk folder? Are any of the links broken?
You can also do this for steps in your design process. Pretend you’re doing an initial consultation, or talking over the proposal, or the design presentation. Present the information that you would show to a client, to an empty chair, and record it from the perspective of the client, literally. Put your phone in a tripod in front of the empty chair where your client would usually sit.
Then watch it and see if there’s anything that might be missing from the client’s perspective. Anything you should be adding or subtracting? Anything you need to be bringing to the presentation but aren’t? You may feel weird, but you also may notice some miraculous things you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Is Everything Ok, from Your Client’s Perspective?
Looking at how things are experienced outside of ourselves gives us a much greater perspective on how things really are. From our own perspective, they’re probably fine. But from someone else’s, they may not be – and they’re unlikely to tell you when something is off.
So regularly schedule yourself to do walk throughs of all your client’s experiences with you. Regularly go to your website and see if anything needs to be changed – links, information, or a way to navigate through. Regularly walk your office space from the perspective of a client to make sure that the condition of everything that they see, do, use, and experience is up to the standards that you want them and need them to be. Regularly present different steps in your process and record yourself doing so to see if there might be a better way of sharing this information from the client’s perspective.
Lead by Understanding
Fully knowing what its like to be someone else is obviously an impossible task. But the more we try to through continual practice, the better we become – the more sympathetic we become, the more effective we become, the more successful we become.
And although doing all of the work listed above may sound extreme, and like a lot of extra work, this is often what it takes to really push you and your firm to the next level – doing unusual and unordinary things that do require those few extra steps. Doing those things that do demand more of you now, but give you back far more in return later.
So I encourage you, regularly train yourself, literally schedule yourself, to “be” your client. Make it a regular part of your existence as a leader to understand what things are like from “the other side.” Let yourself lead by experience, your experience as your own client. And soon, all of these clients that you’re pretending to be, will become real – and raving about just how well you understand them.
Write in the comments below, have you ever pretended to be your own client? If so, what did you learn? I’d love to hear!
And if you’re ready to learn even more about providing an exceptional experience to your clients this year, check out the listing of guides and resources available to you here!