Those surprising words were said to me by a senior executive at a very large organization. Surprising because she and seven fellow execs were less than halfway through the exercise we’d given them: Accomplish a goal that one of their typical customers would try to complete on their website.
Of course, there was a lot more to the exercise than that. We had first explained the concept of an expert review (i.e., heuristic evaluation): With a clearly defined, important customer in mind, try to accomplish a meaningful goal while looking for well-documented types of user experience defects.
We’d then spent some time reviewing short descriptions of their customers and their respective goals — lightweight personas prepared by the next level down in their organization. And we’d also taught them some fundamental user experience errors to look for, like menu choices that are synonyms (making it hard if not impossible to choose the right path) and content written in tiny, low-contrast type that makes the content barely legible for many customers.
After those preliminaries were done, we paired up the execs and set them on their task. They had two hours to find and document problems, which they would then report back to the group for discussion. But no more than 45 minutes into it, after many surprised exclamations and disgusted mutterings, the exec I first mentioned stopped, looked at me, and uttered those game-changing words.
Over the years, I’ve seen many people react similarly when trying to use their own channels, products, or services the way one of their customers would. This instance, however, is burned into my brain. This exec’s dead-serious, flat, authoritative tone and gaze were frankly more chilling than if she’d yelled at me. She was angry to realize what her organization had been putting their customers through, and she was impatient to get on with fixing the situation. Although it wasn’t great to be the focus of her attention at the moment of that realization, bringing about this kind of epiphany is what you live for as a CX analyst — especially when the person having the epiphany is empowered to make change.
Well, guess what? On Wednesday, July 15, we’re inviting executives from all companies — large and small, B2B, and B2C — to participate in our inaugural CX Reality Day. Participating is simple: Think about one of your firm’s most important customers and:
- Complete a few tasks as that customer would. For instance, 1) become a new customer; 2) resolve a problem with your service or product; and 3) add another service or product to your contract or order. Important ground rule: No cheating! If you run into trouble, use the public customer service number, email, or chat service that your customer would use, not your special executive hotline.
- Jot down what happened at each step — good or bad — and how it made you feel at that moment. That will capture your own authentic emotions without filtering them through hindsight.
- When you’re done, ask yourself one critical question: Does my brand promise align with my customer experience?
What should happen next? My fondest wish for you is that you’ll call together your key team members and ask them what that exec asked me almost 20 years ago: “Now what do we do about it?”