I’ve been thinking about what it really means to “Walk in your customer’s shoes”. The other day, a senior-level manager at a large B2B brand told me a fascinating story about how they are going about becoming a fully consumer-first company. Frankly, I learned more this manager than from many other recent chats with B2C marketers, so I thought I’d share.

It was simple, really:

The brand gave employees money and a directive to be a customer.  That means everyone was sent out to participate with the brand as a customer from the point of sale.  Then, the entire company gathered  together to discuss their experiences and identify where the process fell short in order to determine how to deliver more value both to their business partners and to the end customer.   

So how did this activity help deliver better customer experiences? The answer is relatively simple. By gathering qualitative feedback and comparing key findings with internal data sources, this senior-level manager’s team was able to confidently identify (1) the set of improvements they could easily make, (2) the best processes they could automate for maximum effectiveness, and (3) opportunities with the most potential  for changing the message.  Projects were prioritized; some were authorized and others were placed on a long-term roadmap.

Not only did this revolutionize the marketing work the team was doing and the work they were going to be doing – but it also changed the company culture.  Roleplay is an incredible tool for honing empathy with customers. It increases the sales team and the marketing team’s ability to have tailored, value-adding conversations that are sensitive to the needs of consumers.

Of course, there are still many challenges for the the brand to address.  Just because they had a more strategic list of initiatives doesn’t necessarily mean they’re logistically better able to execute – but the mindset is fundamentally altered and the brand is turning towards a new, consumer-first direction. The activity reminded employees of who they were serving and how they brought value.  There is now a greater understanding and empathy for the consumer - which has a far reaching impact on everyday business practices.

Too often, successful brands assume they know their consumers, and don’t challenge themselves to “walk in their customer’s shoes” to gain an external perspective of their company. I think that’s why this exercise was so interesting. For the top of an organization to inspire everyone to take a moment and remember why they were in business?   To serve the customer… that’s a big thought and definitely something to consider investing in.    

Want to read more? Link here to Selligent’s “Consumer-First Marketing Defined” white paper.

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