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Go analog to create customer empathy with a customer experience room

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 08/07/2014

There’s no question about it – we live in a digital world. Checking our Facebook statuses, watching our videos, sending texts, our instincts are becoming digital.

Given that, it’s no surprise that many efforts at teaching about customers are also digital. Citrix created a digital customer room. YouTube channels are another common approach, as are intranets. Companies create all kinds of ways for employees to learn more about customers and their needs.

So why isn’t it working?  Why are companies still so disconnected from the needs of their customers?

A Quick Story

I was thinking about this the other day while working with a client. Her company created an intranet site for employees to learn more about customers, including videos, testimonials, and past research. It even gets a fair amount of traffic. Yet when she talks with employees, it seems like nobody understands what’s on the site. Why isn’t it sinking in?

I hear this a lot.  Companies go through great expense to create online training and other tools to teach about customer needs. They promote (or even mandate) viewing, and are rewarded with good clicks – people go to the site. But for some reason, behavior doesn’t change.

Rationally, intranet sites are good ideas.  Put all your content at one place where anybody can view it. But emotionally it’s a no-go. With our connected world, we’re always multi-tasking. And you can’t teach empathy to somebody while they’re reading an email.

Instead, take a tip from the training world. Online training works well for skills-based courses. But when you want to create change, it takes in-person learning. So ditch the videos and the intranet sites – at least as your primary method of teaching.

Instead, focus on the analog, the in-person experience. Create a customer room, and make it a true, immersive experience. Put your journey maps on the walls, show all of your paperwork in a pile, highlight your confusing processes, and add in videos and audios of customer feedback. Make it an experience worthy of ignoring the smart phone. By creating such an experience, you can create a shared view of your customer needs, creating the customer empathy needed to create a truly customer-inspired experience.

Is it hard to get people to show up? Do you have to fight for space? Of course you do. But ask Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Prime Therapeutics, or other organizations that have created them. The ability to have employees personally connect with customer needs is worth the effort.

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