We’re giving our brains a real workout when dealing with customers. We do our best to see the experience from the their perspective, to empathize with their issue and find the best solution, and simultaneously use processes and procedures to move the interaction to its next logical step. We use our own lens to view the experience while trying to understand what they are seeing and feeling.
Why is it so hard to see the TRUE customer experience?
1. Your brain works against you when you try to change perspective.
If you wholeheartedly believe Sasquatch exists, and I tell you the existence of such a creature is impossible, your brain will recall as many “logical” arguments to the contrary as it can. Facts and evidence can’t change what you feel in your heart.
When a customer has issues around a process we believe to be airtight, we start dismissing the complaint before we realize we’re doing so. We find ways to blame these issues on “user errors” to avoid uncomfortable conversations and extra work to find out what really went wrong in the first place.
2. Your brain isn’t built for multitasking.
We get more stressed out, less focused and more emotionally drained if we force our brains to jump from one thing to the next too often, and multiple studies have confirmed this over and over. Humans need to recharge frequently, and yet in today’s “always on” world, most of us can’t even.
3. Your brain won’t let you stop looking at the clock.
Do you know anyone who’d never said they have too much to do and not enough time to do it? When a customer service issue demands MORE of that time, that bottomless to-do list pops into your head. What will the kids eat tonight? Have you prepared for that big meeting with your boss? Add a phone that keeps buzzing at you and emails chiming for your attention, and it can be nearly impossible to focus on the true customer experience in that moment.
You can overcome these challenges!
Here are a few things I suggest:
1. Remember all conversations can lead to critical outcomes.
The way we handle customer relationships is closely connected to how we feel about our brand. If a conversation leaves the customer feeling ignored, dismissed, or challenged, they will think of the brand as uncaring, pompous or just difficult to deal with. The impact a simple exchange of words can have is amazing, and scary! And don’t think this can’t happen via email, texting, chat or otherwise.
2. Stop assuming you already know.
You immediately begin to dismiss customers if you think you already know who they are and what they’re feeling. Try thinking about their perspective. Has he had an exhausting day at the office? Is this complaint about a small nuisance that’s preventing him from getting this awful day over with? Has he lost a lot of time trying to solve it? Where would he rather be right now? What would make this a better day?
Providing a little understanding, compassion and even humor or delight can help that customer think your brand is caring and fun!
3. Try to see things through other lenses often.
Yes, it’s very hard to truly understand someone else’s perspective. But, like anything else, it gets better and easier if you make a point to do this every time. If you find yourself drifting back into your own world of emails, meetings and soccer practice, stop. Blink a few times to reconnect yourself with the moment you are experiencing.
Few could argue that understanding one another is an ongoing challenge, not just in the business world. Each one of us is full of nuance and mystery. Doing our best to see things through someone else’s lens isn’t a perfect science, but an imperfect art form. With practice, you can create better experiences for customers and everyone else around you.