What Guests Are Really Experiencing

Editors Note: During our August focus on Guest Experiences, we are honored to have some of the best voices in the world of Customer Experience provide guest posts for the Vision Room. As you read the content below, simply think “Guest” in terms of the “customer” the author is talking about – and you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of these great minds.

You may have heard the expression, “Take a walk in your customer’s shoes.” The idea is that you put yourself in the customer’s position and see the situation through their eyes. This is good advice for those who have customer-facing responsibilities.

You may have heard other versions of this expression. One of the more humorous versions is, “Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes, and once you’re a mile away, you can say anything you want about the customer and they can’t hear you.”

I said it was humorous. I didn’t say it was right.

Recently, I was speaking at a convention in Philadelphia, where I heard another version of the phrase. This one’s a good one. “Before you walk in the customer’s shoes, take off your own shoes.”

What this means is that even though we try to see the experience through the customer’s eyes, we sometimes don’t – or can’t – because we know too much from being on the inside of the company. It’s hard to separate ourselves from what we think the customer perceives versus what the customer actually experiences.

Years ago I came up with a short poem: Think like the buyer, not like the supplier. That’s it. It’s just one line. I would have used the word customer instead of buyer, but I couldn’t come up with a good rhyme. The point of the poem is similar to the idea of walking in the customer’s shoes. We need to get inside the heads and hearts of our customers and step away from our company roles before we can truly understand what the customer is thinking about us.

However you say it, there’s only one way to do it. You can’t talk about it in a conference room with your colleagues. You must become the customer. Depending on your type of business, there are different ways to do so. Call your company from the outside and experience what it’s really like to go through the phone tree or be put on hold. Make a call to the sales department or go visit a store as a customer. Experience all you can from the customer’s perspective.

We want our customers to have a great experience. The only person who can really judge your success is the customer. The customer is the judge and jury on that one.

Do your perceptions of the customer’s experience align with the customer’s reality? Take a walk in your customer’s shoes – after taking yours off – and find out.

> Read more from Shep.


Want to know more about Guest Experiences at your church? Let’s talk! Connect with an Auxano Navigator here.

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Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a customer service expert, hall-of-fame speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He works with organizations to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program that helps organizations develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. For more information contact (314) 692-2200 or www.Hyken.com.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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