We can skip talking to the customers


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I’m a user-centered design professional, an IA/UX if you will, seeking to do what is so obvious to me—applying user-centered research and design methods to the customer experience. Of course, as you all know, this means starting the process with interviewing your customers, talking to them, having a conversation with them, perhaps even spending a day with them and shadowing them.

I’ve been doing this for 15 years in the “web world.” It seemed a natural and easy conversion to make. In my last role, where I was in-house, I naturally expanded from marketing into those other critical areas of the customer experience—sales, IT, customer service, human resources. My peers saw what user-centered design methods could accomplish and welcomed my involvement in improving their processes and interactions with the client.

But, as a consultant, I’ve hit a brick wall. I keep hearing, “We understand our customers, we can skip that part and jump right into the work.” And, “We just did a survey, we can use that.” Or, my very favorite, “Our sales people (or customer service people) talk to the customers all the time, you can just talk to them.” UGH, I’m pulling my hair out.

I believe I’m talking to the right type of company—mid-size with multiple customer touchpoints, both B2B and consumer companies. And they all have expressed a need to improve their customer experience. They want to work with me. BUT when it comes to the process, my recommended method for accomplishing this, they reject the customer interviews…

I’m channeling Cee Lo now… Why, Whyyyy, Whyyyyyyy Baby!

Recently, I’ve been struggling with what I thought were the issues:

1.) I’m not talking to the right type of business

2.) I’m not talking to the right person at that business

3.) I’m not very good at explaining/selling the customer interviews

And while these three things may indeed be true, something else struck me today …

People do not understand the technology behind websites, therefore they can comfortably admit they are not experts, they are not expected to be. It’s easy for a salesperson or a VP of operations to say “I don’t understand how users want to use a website.”

BUT for those same people to admit that they “don’t know what their customers want” then they must not be doing their job.

Now, I know this isn’t true. It’s the wrong type of thinking. But I can’t help wonder if this thinking is preventing businesses from doing the customer interviews? Are people simply concerned about admitting that they don’t know everything about their customers?

I don’t know the answer, but I would appreciate some advice for overcoming this issue:

As a consultant, do you experience the same objections to customer interviews? How do you overcome these objections?

On the business side, how do you feel about this issue? Why do some businesses resist the customer interview?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Raelin Musuraca
Customer Experience Strategist, Musuraca LLC
Raelin Musuraca is versatile and energetic customer experience strategist with twenty years practicing marketing, digital strategy, and user experience. She has led multidisciplinary teams in the development of award-winning marketing and customer engagement programs.


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