When was the last time you tried to do business with you (or your organization/company)? When was the last time you tried your own products and/or services? Or when was the last time you tried to imagine what it would be like to be a new customer? If you’re like most business people, it’s been awhile.
In preparation for a meeting with an out of town client this week, I asked one of their staff to take a series of pictures of how a new person would experience their facility. I wanted pictures from the street while approaching their property, their signage, images showing the difficulty of figuring out where to enter the building, pictures of walking in the facility, the carpet, the walls, etc. Why? Because whenever you and I have been someplace for more than a week or two, we (usually) stop thinking like a new person. We know where to go. We know about the missing ceiling tile or the one with the water damage. We forget about the stain in the middle of the carpet. Etc. In other words, we stop thinking like a new person. We stop seeing what they see. In fact, the person who took those pictures for me actually wrote back and thanked me for the assignment. It helped her see what she no longer saw.
Or when was the last time you tried using your own product? For example, while away this week, I ended up staying at a Hampton Inn one evening. In the morning (after a way too short evening–due to two planes delays–who would have thought it possible in America, traveling through O’Hare?), I got in the shower and remembered there are two things I dislike about Hampton Inns. One is the design of the shampoo bottle. Though it looks cool, it’s a pain to get shampoo out of. The plastic is too hard and too narrow to squeeze so you have to shake the shampoo out. And the other is the design of the soap. Again, if looks cool in the paper, but when you take it out of it’s shell, you realize it’s a very hard piece of soap, in the shape of a square with very sharp edges, which, as you know, is something most people don’t appreciate using around their . . . well, you know what I mean. In fact, every time I end up staying at a Hampton Inn I keep wondering, "Has anyone in Management actually used this soap in the morning and thought, ‘Hey, I like inflicting pain on my [softer] parts."?
Now, before we give the Hampton Inns too hard a time, the reality is that we all do something like this in each of our businesses and/or organizations. There are things that you and I do, in our respective businesses, that hinder our relationships with our clients/customers/members, that if we removed them, would make what we do more remarkable. For example, if the Hampton Inns management team found some well designed soap and shampoo options, that still communicated "coolness"–but actually did their job (and didn’t inflict pain), they would be more remarkable.
So, how can you see like a new person again? Imagine it! Imagine that you’re a new customer and want to contact your company, how would you do that? Can you even find the information on your website? Have you tried contacting "customer service"? How long did it take? Did they resolve your problem? Etc. In other words, in order to see what they see, image a scenario and then go through the actual experience as they would. Try your products. Take pictures. Walk into your facility seeing what a new person would see. Try to figure out where you would go if you wanted "X". How would you find that? Was it easy? Just keep asking questions.
Because, at the end of the day, what you really want to do is make doing business with you very easy. The first step to doing that is to eliminate all unWOW. And the first step to eliminating all unWOW is to see what they see. Not what you see or want them to see, but what they actually see (or experience). Then, once you see what they see, you have your marching orders. Eliminate the offenders.