The Best Way To Focus on Customer Experience Is To Follow Mom’s Advice

meerkat looking around

Meerkats are known for being aware of their surroundings.

Remember how Forrest Gump liked to quote what his “mama always said”? Well my mama always said: Be aware of your surroundings.

Even today, when I’m traveling for keynote speeches, she reminds me to be aware of my surroundings. Watch your back, don’t assume anything, be careful. As she also likes to say, she gets paid to worry (my response: you must be quite wealthy).

It occurred to me recently that “be aware of your surroundings” is also terrific advice for anyone looking to focus on customer experience.

When I worked at Discover Card, many merchants did not accept Discover as form of payment, even if they accepted Visa and Mastercard (Discover has since closed this gap). As a dedicated employee for nearly a decade, I learned to spot the credit card stickers on the doors and windows of restaurants and retailers, and keep walking if the Discover logo wasn’t on them.

It was this power of observation that ultimately led to me being “good at” customer experience.

Today I notice everything – signage, cleanliness, physical layouts, product displays, employee smiles – and they all give me dozens of ideas on how to improve the customer experience.

Related: Why Are Brands Not Listening To Their Customers?

Customer experience doesn’t have to be a multi-year, multi-million-dollar transformational project. In fact, it’s more often a series of little things. It’s a long series, to be sure, and in theory it never ends because as soon as think we’ve landed on the optimal CX, customers change their expectations.

So how do you find all of these little things to work on? Be aware of your surroundings.

I always advise audiences and clients to become a customer of their own company. In the credit card industry, this meant applying for a card, activating it, setting up an online account, forgetting my password (that one may not have been on purpose, but I did learn something), calling Customer Service, redeeming rewards, and more. In other words, doing all of the things your customers do.

If you own a restaurant, retail shop, or a medical or dental practice, make sure to occasionally walk in the front door. This seems simple, but so many business owners walk in the back door or employee entrance instead. By entering and exiting the same way your customers (or patients) do, you see what they see. Things you might notice:

  • The entry door is cluttered with old stickers and signage
  • The front desk is dirty or dusty
  • The temperature is too hot or too cold
  • It is not clear where to go or what to do

These are all signs that your customer experience needs help, but if you aren’t looking for them, chances are they’ll never get addressed.

This also works when you are the customer or patient. By being aware of the surroundings of other organizations, you can garner ideas for what to do (and not do) in your own business. After all, we are all consumers and we all know what we like and don’t like; why not apply that knowledge to your own customer experience?

So commit to doing what mama always said: Be aware of your surroundings. You just might impact your customer experience in a positive way.

Image by Vinson Tan ( 楊 祖 武 ) from Pixabay

More: Here are 4 Customer Experience Trends to Focus on in 2022

Related: Check out this brief clip of my appearance on Bryan Kramer’s Humanly Possible podcast: