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What Does It Mean to Put Yourself in Your Customer’s’ Shoes?

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

We’ve all heard this saying before: to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Although it shouldn’t be taken literally, there is a meaning behind it that many people think they understand, but few manage to grasp and apply to their company or business. At first glance, the quote is simple to understand. You need to think of your business with an outside perspective. You need to be able to see your business through the eyes of an outsider, and you need to improve or change your business based on how they see your company.

One of the biggest blunders to this quote, however, is that very few people actually understand how to do so. They think of themselves as a customer and they might even use their business as a consumer at some point, but they don’t manage to separate themselves enough so that they approach their business with zero knowledge. Let’s face it, it’s hard to disconnect yourself from the knowledge you have about your products, so it’s easy to look at them and automatically know all the technical jargon you’ve used.

Since it’s so difficult to separate yourself from your prior knowledge, how can you actually put yourself in your customer’s shoes and what kind of effect does it have on your company? Let’s explore those considerations now.

Focusing on user experience

One of the things to keep in mind when designing a website or product is to keep it as simple and clean as possible. User centred design is one of the most important aspects of design because you need to think about what your user’s needs are when designing anything in your business. It needs to be coherent, it needs to flow well, and navigation needs to be simple. This step involves a lot of planning and testing, but it’s easy to grasp once you get a little practice.

Get involved with user communities

Knowing your community is another sound way of providing them with the best service you can. If you get involved with your community, it’ll be easy to listen to feedback and respond to it. For instance, you could get on social media or Facebook groups that are based on your products, and you can check out the comments and feedback people are posting in order to plan improvements or future updates to your products and services.

Acting on feedback and criticism

But just listening to feedback and criticism isn’t going to cut it—you also need to act on it. Make sure you respond to criticism as much as possible and keep a professional tone. Build a bond of trust between you and the customer by listening to them and trying to respond to any concerns they have in order to build your brand and promote your business. The more care you show to your customer, the easier it is to see where they stand and what it’s like to be in their shoes. Communication is a two-way street, and it’s imperative that you focus on being open with the customer if you want to understand them.

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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