There is still, from my point of view, paradoxical injunctions given to people dealing with customers: they are told that we must learn to wear the customer’s shoes and also to treat customers as they would like to be treated themselves. Again and according to me this can not work because it is conflicting and not sufficient.
Let me explain why we need three steps to overcome this paradox:
First we have to admit that treating a client as we would like to be treated ourselves is a completely self-centered attitude. We become and remain the center of our own attention, our eyes are staring our proper needs, limited beliefs and experiences. What is expected is that each of us mirrors our own expectations.
Treat a customer as we would like to be treated is only the first but unsufficient step to get closer to the customer.The questions usually asked are :If I were in this situation myself, what would I think, what would I feel, what would I do? If this step can give you some resources and information, those are limited to your own personal experience, which may be restricted and not useful enough.
The second step is of course to exercise our ability to empathize i.e. to remain ourselves while understanding the situation of the other person. We get better at understanding a client in his context, taking a ride in his reality to better walk in his shoes. This means putting aside our own beliefs and limitations and visit the customer’s experience reality.
Here the questions that may arise are the following: Depending on what I can see of his real world , what are the client’s feelings, what does he think, what does he do? Although this second approach is richer and even closer to the customer than the first one, it requires not getting caught by our own reality and a robust capacity to suspend judgment . It has the advantage of allowing us to detect and begin to understand the behaviors and expectations of the clients.
To finish, here is the third step I suggest. First, abandon the exclusive use of the golden rule that is « treat the customer as you would like to be treated yourself ». I invite you instead, to apply the Platinum rule , metal often considered more valuable than gold. With this rule you are asked to treat the customer as he would like to be treated. Based on the criteria that represent a good experience for him, the questions to be asked to the customer are: what does the customer want to feel, what does he want to think, what does he wants to do.
We see here that the challenge to serve and understand the customer is primarily to take awareness of what is a factor of success according to him. Note that the success is not measured by the brand standards .To illustrate this 80% of companies think they provide a positive experience to their customers and only 8% of those same customers do agree. Mind the gap!
Capturing and respecting the voice of the customer in its essence ( feedback, expectations, desired experience) is key to reduce this gap. That depends on the ability of the staff to put the customer at the heart of their attentions, provided the company C level leaders know how to show the way.