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4 Reasons to Walk a Mile in Your Customers' Shoes (And How to Do It)

Why you should get your customers' perspectives, and how it will help with the success of your business.

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Recognizing a need for your products or services and starting a business is an accomplishment. I should know. After all, I am an admitted serial entrepreneur with several successful companies under my belt. But even with my business accomplishments, I understand that it’s necessary to put myself in my customers’ shoes once in a while. And then, walk a mile. 

Related: How the Customer Experience Affects Your Bottom Line

Reasons to walk a mile in your customers’ shoes

Why is it so crucial to put yourself in your customers’ shoes? There are four great reasons to see things from their perspective. Let’s get into them. 

1. Understand customer pain points

One of the biggest reasons to put yourself in your customers’ perspective is that it helps you understand any pain points they may have. Look at your products or services through the lens of a customer and ask yourself important questions. 

If you have a brick and mortar location, ask yourself questions like:

  • Does the layout of the products make sense?
  • Are product sections well-organized to find items quickly?
  • Can you navigate the aisles easily?
  • Can most customers access the things they need without assistance?

Is your business e-commerce? Here are some things to consider from a customer’s perspective:

  • Website navigation
  • Accessible search functions
  • On-screen color coordination (e.g., are the text and background colors complementary?)
  • Working links

Beyond cosmetic appearances, you also need to consider if customers can easily go from Point A (finding your shop) to Point B (making a purchase). If there are too many steps between the two, customers may feel frustrated. 

2. Find the weakest part of your business

Business owners are not perfect, and they’re bound to make mistakes. After all, we’re only human. That being said, you may have a few places where your business can improve. When you think like a customer, you can objectively look at areas where you might need to put in some extra effort. 

You might observe how your customer service behaves and determine that customers have questions not covered in training. Or, you may look at your website in a different browser than usual and see that the functionality is different than your typical browser. 

Whatever your weak point is, your customers’ viewpoints offer insight into where or what it is. 

3. Learn your business' strengths

Not everything you learn while thinking like a customer is something to improve on. Sometimes, you see where your business shines. You can use this knowledge to understand why your customers come to your business over competitors. 

When you know why your customers come to your business, play to your strengths. If your customer service is consistently the star, highlight that in your marketing efforts. Do you have affordable prices for quality products or services? Feature that information on your website or advertising. 

Learn what brings customers into your company time and time again so you can continue to provide what they look for from you. 

4. Create win-win scenarios

When you understand what your customers experience when doing business with you, you can find solutions to pain points or weaknesses. And when you look for solutions, decide how your business can benefit from them as well. After all, solving customer problems can help you grow your business

Perhaps a pain point in your store is that it’s hard for customers to navigate and find what they’re looking for. A simple solution is to place hanging signs listing item categories above each aisle. In doing so, customers can find what they’re looking for and locate other items they may otherwise overlook. 

Related: 12 Golden Rules for Customer Experience Strategy

How to walk a mile in your customers’ shoes

Walking a mile in your customers’ shoes doesn’t have to include actually walking through your store or poring over your website. Instead, you have a variety of options available to you to understand your customers’ perspectives. 

One of the best ways to understand your customers’ needs and wants is to ask them directly. Depending on how you sell your products or services, you can:

  • Add a survey to the bottom of receipts
  • Run a program to randomly select website visitors for feedback before they exit their browser
  • Request feedback after online purchases
  • Send email surveys to customers after they check out
  • Create social media posts requesting feedback
  • Add a reviews section to your website
  • Send text message surveys to customers enrolled in your company’s texting service, if applicable

Customer feedback allows you to understand their thoughts and opinions objectively. 

You can also consider hiring secret shoppers to evaluate your in-store or online business. Keep in mind that most mystery shoppers expect payment for their services. But, this option allows you to receive feedback on the customers’ experience without hoping for reviews. 

Continue to walk in customers’ shoes

Once you understand the viewpoint of your customer, it’s not over. What customers think of your business changes and evolves over time. So, keep customer feedback and input at the forefront of your mind. Especially, whenever you think of ways to change your current processes. 

Think about how your changes will impact your customer experience and retention. After you implement changes, ask your customers to give more feedback. Don’t accept one set of feedback as the gospel truth, either. Ask for as much feedback as possible to get a clear picture of the success of your efforts. 

I’ll leave you with one final thought to consider. If you do not ask for feedback because you’re not comfortable with it, you’ll never get a better understanding of your customers’ perspectives. Criticism is rarely easy, but it’s a great way to learn. And if you find that your customers’ shoes pinch while you’re walking in them, count yourself lucky. Why? Because that’s how you know you have a good starting point to improve your business.

Related: Four Ways To Boost Customer Experience (And Thus Hold Onto ...

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