Walk in their Shoes

Want to increase your performance by increasing engagement? Walk in their shoes. A great technique for improving engagement with either colleagues or clients and customers is to walk in their shoes. Ideally literally, especially if you provide a service or product to someone.

For example, I go to a local coffee shop and I order tea (most of my friends drink coffee and the place does have a nice vibe). I don’t think the people working at the shop have ever participated in the tea experience they provide. If they did they would change some things – they serve the tea in a glass coffee carafe which doesn’t keep the second cup warm while you are enjoying the first, the tea leaves sit in the bottom of the carafe so that second cup of tea is often too strong, and the milk pitcher they provide is miniscule not enough for the second cup. If they had walked in my shoes and gone through the whole tea experience they would know the deficits and adjust accordingly. 

Here’s a 3 step plan for engaging the client or customer or even colleague:

1. Look at the experience or product from the point of view of the customer and what the customer cares about, not what matters to you. I sat in a waiting area the other day looking at my phone and noticed they had wifi requiring a password. I looked around, there was no indication of what the password might be so I waited in line at the reception to ask. I asked why they didn’t post it somewhere freeing me from the need to queue and was told by one receptionist they hadn’t thought of it. When I asked the manager the same thing I was told they didn’t like ratty paper notices posted (hint: make it a nice notice in keeping with the décor or ensure the receptionist tells you the password when you initially check in eliminating re-queuing). It’s about your customer experience, not how you provide it.


2. Think of what would make your customer feel good, ideally really good. You don’t want a customer feeling neutral or worse – avoiding feeling negative. Think about how a customer feels or thinks when they are coming into contact with you or your product. When I call my boiler man, Mike, with a question he always  makes me feel smart, safe and empowered. He says “you were right to call”, “we’ll sort it”, and importantly he walks the talk following through on this commitment at a reasonable price I might add.


3. Make what you offer distinct, stand out, not just a variation from competitors. Our brains actually work by noticing patterns and we naturally notice variations in those patterns. Michael Schumacher once said he slowed down at a blind corner and avoided being part of a huge collision because he noticed something different than usual. He was going into the curve and the spectators weren’t looking at the approaching cars but rather the other way. This was not usual so there must have been something different causing them to look the other way; he then extrapolated that it might be an accident. His brain noticed the difference and reacted by slowing down thereby avoiding the accident. Stand out, be different.

What could you do today to increase your business performance by standing out in ways that matter to your customers and make them feel great?