There’s a Rosetta Stone for building a responsive organisation, and that’s a deep, intimate understanding of your customers – their hopes and fears, their challenges, and what lights them up inside.
All too often we rely on reports or surveys or some other abstracted method of trying to make sense of what’s really important. The reality is, if you’re not at the coal-face, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity.
In this video, I’ll share with you an activity that will get you out there, listening and learning, and growing your knowledge of what your customers expect of you and your company.
It’s a stepping stone towards a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves and a real life, practical tool that I use everyday in client transformations. This technique has proven over and over again that there is no substitute for hearing it for ourselves rather than being locked away in an office.
And you’ve got some homework… so get cracking!
Video transcript and relevant links
Today what I thought I would do is give you a little activity. We’ve had some pretty heavy stuff over the last couple of weeks and a lot of philosophising and I can tend to get too caught up in that!
So I have an activity today that’s gonna be super super fun. It’s the one tool, if I could give you one thing that was going to change your life this tool would be it!
You will need a journal or a notebook, and a pen. And what I’m going to do it send you out your frontline to start to understand customer demand. So have any of you seen Undercover Boss? Great TV show kinda like that. We’re gonna send you out to the place where your customers interact with your team.
Call centres are a great spot to do this, frontline desk service where you’ve got customers walking up to say reception desk – anywhere that you can get to the real interaction between customers and your company, that first touchpoint.
Once you get out there to the frontline, what we’re gonna do is you’re going to listen in on what customers are asking for. So it’s a really really simple technique but I think what you’ll find is the power that comes from this deeper understanding of getting out there at the coalface is huge.
So what I want you to do, is whilst you’re and shoot so whatever you to do is whilst you’re… set yourself up, get yourself into a place where you can sit and observe, and then whilst you’re settled you want to listen for what customers are asking for when they come into contact with your team member.
Let’s say you’re in a call centre, you’ve got a headset on you’re listening to the calls as they come through. I want you to write down VERBATIM, in the customers words what they asked for, first up. So that initial interaction the call through to the call centre, the first thing that comes out of their mouth… write that down!
And it needs to be verbatim. You only get one chance at a clean data set. So I don’t want to see what you think you heard or your interpretation of what they asked for. Write down verbatim, in the customers’ words what they asked for.
And then follow up the rest of the call, keep an ear out for the things that really matter to your customers – so what’s actually important to them about what they want, when they might want it, and how they want it delivered. Keep that sort of running tally. And I want you to sit and try and do at least 50 demands.
This might take you a few days and that’s ok. But! Once you start to build a data set and you start to listen to a whole bunch of these demands, you’ll start to notice the patterns that emerge.
And once you start to see the patterns you’re gonna get some really deep insight into what’s important for your customers, what they expect of you and your company and how you can better serve them.
Super simple tool, incredibly powerful.
Off the back end of this tool we build massive organisational transformation and process change, and it’s incredible once you start to get that focus on what’s really important.
The other bonus, is that you now have customer words that you can start to bring into all of your presentations with your colleagues and other executives that maybe haven’t got that close to the work, and the power of being able to use customer language and the words of your customer is incredible.
So. Go out and have fun with it. Love to hear comments below and the insights that you get as a result of getting close to your customers!
Want to know more? Here’s some great places to get started:
Check out more about systems thinking and the Vanguard Method here: https://vanguard-method.net – this team taught me everything I know
And John Seddon’s Book “Freedom From Command and Control” is an excellent read