What if you could put on a set of clothes that would instantly transform you into your customer, so that you would see things the way your customer sees them, feel what your customer feels, and walk like your customer walks?
Would you then have a better understanding of what your customers like, dislike, and how to make them more loyal?
AgeLab, a research center at M.I.T. created a suit they call AGNES. According to an article in the New York Times, AGNES “is calibrated to simulate the dexterity, mobility, strength and balance of a 74-year-old.” By wearing the suit, you experience the physiological feelings that are felt by a 74-year old. Many companies are having their product engineers wear these suits in order to gain a better understanding of how to design solutions for their aging customer.
By seeing what your customer sees, and feeling what your customer feels, you’ll have greater empathy to make the right decisions to serve your customers in ways that will make them more loyal, and make your business stronger.
The concept is simple: Come up with a way to actually experience what it’s like to be your customer, and you’ll know exactly what you need to do to please your customer.
OK, so what are three ways that you can apply this same principal, short of designing and wearing a body-suit?
- Be your customer.
If you’re familiar with the “mystery shopper” concept, you know this approach. Step on the other side of the counter, and go through the entire customer lifecycle, from evaluating to buying to owning and using the product that you now sell. What touch-points delivered a positive experience, and which touch points can be improved? By actually being a customer of your company, you’ll understand first-hand what your real customers feel.
- Ask your customer.
Customer surveys and focus groups are another common approach for finding out what the customers think. Done right, these can be effective tools for gaining valuable insight about the experience that you currently deliver.
- Capture their comments.
Customers constantly provide feedback, but much of it is never captured. During a recent post, I described my experience with Continental Airlines, their customer comment sieve. If you equip your customer-facing employees with the tools to capture feedback when it’s provided, you’ll begin to accumulate a rich trove of real customer feelings that can tell you exactly what you can do to delight your customers.
The best way to know your customer is to be your customer.
What do you think are the best ways to better know your customer?
Thanks to M.I.T. AgeLab for these images of AGNES "Aging Empathy Suit."