Do you know your customer’s pain points? Do you understand how they currently do their job? Do you know how to make their jobs more efficient through better products and design? Do you have empathy for them?
These are all questions that I have asked myself throughout my career. An ideal way to find the answers to these questions is to sit with your customers and do their job. Take the time to invest in people and build a relationship with them to truly understand their feelings and thoughts about your product.
Customers may be internal and/or external depending on the products you are providing. You may be a developer or an executive at a company and I would still recommend trying this approach at either level. This will give you the perspective of truly walking in the customer’s shoes. For example, if you are working with a customer service model and you are in software development, you may have internal customers using one of your applications in sales to place an order. On the other hand, you may have an external customer using another application to run their business operations. Build a relationship with these customers and start shadowing them doing their job. Ask if you may do their job using the application for a couple of sales orders or operations. This will start to build empathy and it will also go a long way in building trust with your customers. It’s fairly easy to talk and think you know what your customers are going through but when you sit down and do the job using the application, you get a different perspective.
Some of the things I have learned from being with customers:
- Truly understanding problems such as operational inefficiencies
- New ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of if I wasn’t doing the customer’s job
- Understanding priorities and what it is that the customer really needs
- Addressing immediate needs and short term wins while continuing to build out future applications and features
- Understanding how the customer feels when using the product
What are your thoughts and experiences on building customer empathy?