Our objective on People Move Organizations is to make you successful in your career whatever your definition of success looks like. One of the things that will make you stand out from your peers is your ability to improve your customer’s experience with your company. Even if you are in a role where you don’t interact with your customer directly, you should always have customer experience in the back of your mind.
If you’d like to get a basic introduction to the concept of customer experience, check out episode 19.
You may have heard of the problem solving technique of asking Why 5 times. This technique helps you dig deeper into a problem by ensuring that you don’t accept the first answer to a problem. The idea is that if you keep asking why five times, you’ll dig deep enough to really understand the root cause of an issue.
I took that basic concept and adjusted it to address the idea of customer experience. I was looking for a way to help all employees within a company keep customer experience in the back of their mind as they contemplated a change to their process. I originally posted this framework as a blog post on LinkedIn in 2016.
I call the framework the 5 How’s.
There are 5 How Questions that you should always consider if you are going to implement a change to your process. Alternatively, if you have a process that you suspect could be improved, you could use these 5 questions to help you assess if a change is needed.
How is this change going to impact my customer?
Many times, when we think about making a change, we spend time thinking about the impacts to us, or our team, or maybe, even other internal stakeholders. But, have you thought about the impact to your customer? Depending on your role, the impact may be obvious or it may be very indirect and not so obvious. But, either way, you should really spend some time thinking about it. Having a point of view about this, at least ensures you’ve thought about it and eliminates the risk that you just moved ahead without a second thought.
How will this change look from my customer’s standpoint?
Again, you are likely to naturally think about the change from an internal perspective, but be thoughtful about stepping outside your organization and looking at it from the customer’s perspective. Are they likely to see it as an improvement? Will they think it makes you easier to do business with? Will they see it as something you are taking away from them?
Spend some time considering this so that you can determine if you need to take any specific action as part of the change.
How will my customer respond to the change?
If you’ve thought about how the change looks from the customer’s perspective, then you can also take this next step and think about how they might respond. Of course, this can be very tricky because the same exact change can produce different responses from different customers. You may have one customer who is fairly easy-going and just naturally accepts it and another who is high maintenance that throws an all-out temper tantrum. This is where knowing your customer will come in handy because you may be able to assess pretty accurately what the different likely responses will be. But, even if you don’t know you clients well enough to make a specific assessment, you can make some educated guesses.
However, by spending the time to think through the possible responses to the change, you will be able to come up with a plan for how to deal with the different scenarios.
How will my customer find out about the change?
Your answer to the previous questions can help determine how big of a deal this one is. If you’ve determined that, for example, the change is likely to impact your client very little, then how they find out about it is not really that big of a deal. But, if they will see the change as a reduction in service and they are likely to respond very negatively, the way they find out about it becomes a lot more important. So, think about how they will find out about it and make sure it is in alignment with the rest of your assessment.
How will my customer give feedback about the change?
One of the key tenants of good change management is to ensure there is a way for people to provide feedback. A feedback loop is absolutely necessary. A feedback loop doesn’t mean only a way to complain. It also means a way to ask questions or get clarifications. So, make sure you’ve thought about the feedback loop that the customer will have. It may be as simple as providing a contact name or as complex as building out an elaborate website, but what you want to make sure you do is give the right feedback loop for the situation.
Asking How 5 times will ensure you have a solid plan to address the impacts to your customer of a change you are making or are part of.
If you are not in a customer facing role, you should still ask the questions. Better to ask them and determine the answer to all questions is ‘no impact’ than to not ask them at all and find out the hard way that you missed something.
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