Stepping Into Your Customers’ Shoes


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If we could ‘be a fly on the wall’ observing customers’ experiences what a treasure trove of wisdom we’d have! Surveys, user groups and advisory boards are common tools for understanding customers — but what is their scope? Do we have a comprehensive suite of tools for stepping into our customers’ shoes?

Customer Experience Scope
We often short-change our perspective of the customer experience. A panoramic view of the customer’s pressures, delights, wishes, and circumstances enables us to step into their shoes. What’s a panoramic view?

  • Start: Customer experience begins with the customer’s awareness of his/her need or desire for a solution
  • End: The experience extends through the customer’s full use of the purchased product or service, including use after new models have been released as well as eventual downgrade/upgrade/disposal
  • Who: Include all persons influencing the decisions to purchase and re-purchase
  • What: Tailor customer data collection to each influencer’s ‘care-abouts’ from start to end
  • When: Collect voice of the customer (VOC) at the moments influencers care most about the product or service
  • How: Involve influencers in ways that are most convenient for them

Customer Data Integration
Untapped customer data is rampant! Consider the sources of customer data that exist in our companies. Have we considered how to integrate this data to paint a panorama of the customer experience?

  • Sales call reports, service call reports, call center logs, accounts payable call reports
  • CRM databases, trade show conversations
  • Complaints, blogs, communities
  • User groups, advisory boards, references
  • Transactional pulses, focus groups, surveys, executive listening
  • Customer profiles, competitor analysis, social media comments by customers of our customers

Customer Experience Management
To really understand the customer experience we need a panoramic view of customers’ pressures, delights, wishes, and circumstances. Asking the right questions of the right people at the right time is a key to this panorama. Integrating our customer data sources aids a holistic view and improves VOC ROI. And most importantly, we can operationalize customer feedback throughout our organizations to prevent customer hassles. By doing this with pure motives to make it easier and nicer for customers to find and use solutions, customer experience management minimizes customer churn, drives positive word-of-mouth, and reaps higher customer lifetime value.

Lynn Hunsaker

Lynn Hunsaker is 1 of 5 CustomerThink Hall of Fame authors. She built CX maturity via customer experience, strategic planning, quality, and marketing roles at Applied Materials and Sonoco. She was a CXPA board member and SVAMA president, taught 25 college courses, and authored 6 CXM studies and many CXM handbooks and courses. Her specialties are B2B, silos, customer-centric business and marketing, engaging C-Suite and non-customer-facing groups in CX, leading indicators, ROI, maturity. CX leaders in 50+ countries benefit from her self-paced e-consulting: Masterminds, Value Exchange, and more.


  1. Lynn,

    You have created a nice overview of what a business owner needs to think about when surveying their customers for feedback. I would add that understanding what specific information you hope to gain should direct the development of the questions. “Are you happy with your purchase” might give you the hoped for answer of “yes” but what have you learned? Nothing. What about their purchase are they happy with? The quality, the value, the experience, the sales person, the price?

    Formulate the questions in such a way as to net specific responses that assist with molding your customer experience. Seek out a customer that you trust to partner with in the development of your survey questions. Test out the questions to see what kind of response you recieve. You may be surprised by the answers.



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