Last week I was passing through a major North American airport and when I went to the washroom, I was greeted by the device in the picture, happily asking me to rate the cleanliness of the restroom. The irony was palpable…if the washroom was really in a bad state, well, while I would really want to give that feedback to them – I would, under no circumstance, ever touch those buttons after coming out of the washroom (especially a dirty bathroom). Who knows what morbid flesh-eating germs dwell on those innocent looking smiling and frowning button faces.

This made me think about how we sometimes have great ideas but execute them poorly because we don’t put ourselves in the shoes of the customer. While the thought of getting feedback on the cleanliness of the restroom was indeed admirable, had the managers behind this idea put themselves in the shoes of their customer and walked in their footsteps, they would know people would not touch buttons on a machine in a washroom after they (hopefully) scrubbed their hands to just get rid of all the germs that may reside there.

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and walking in their footsteps is not difficult yet it’s astounding how rarely it’s done. How many customer managers have I met who have never ever called their own 1-800 number? How many VPs of service have never shadowed their own call center agents? How many Support Directors who have never logged in to their own support portal as a customer to see what that experience looks like?

Check out our interactive infographic for 20 customer service best practices.

When we typically engage in a discovery session with our customers, there are 5 basic things we look at.

1. Map out the channels you serve customers on – phone, email, web, mobile, social, live chat, etc.

Several times some channels are greater than others — for example, everyone lives and dies and measures phone performance to the nth degree. However that same customer may get a very different and annoying experience when reaching out to you over social channels. Are you treating your channels equal enough?

2. Mystery call on all those channels.

Perception is reality for the customer. It does not matter what you think. All that matters is what the customers think and how their experience is. Mystery calling will help you uncover your end customer’s experience

3. Talk to and/or shadow your agents.

I always like to speak to at least 2 agents – one who is experienced and has been with you awhile and another who is relatively new. With the experienced agent, you will be surprised by how much they know and the war stories they have. You will also be surprised (maybe not pleasantly) by how many workarounds they have found and how inefficiencies have set in – sometimes to the point that they don’t know any different because they are so used to it. That’s where the new agents come in and you should use their fresh eyes to find things that just don’t make sense – but are done anyways, just because they have always been done that way.

4. Talk to team leads.

Team leads or supervisors are usually more tenured and have come up through the ranks and now see a wider variety to agents and use cases. They will also have wisdom you can use. They usually are overworked and underappreciated, but will have observations you cannot find in other places.

5. Walk around the call center.

See how people are celebrated. See what contests and spiffs they have. See what KPIs are being measured. People tend to perform based on metrics they are measured on – so measuring on metrics that may seem to drive efficiency (eg. activities) versus driving goals is a very common struggle many support organizations face.

Of course, knowing thyself (and thy team) is the key tenet here. Call your 1-800 number, start a live chat on your own portal, log a case on your website as a customer, chat with your agents – you may be surprised by what you find. We get extremely focused on our view of the world – take time, once a month or once a quarter to view your world as your customer and you will realize that what you may see as a great feedback machine in the washroom in your view, is a germ-dispenser that should never be touched in your customer’s eyes.

You can connect your entire business around the customer with just 6 steps. Find out how by downloading the free e-book.