Customer visit….a great idea or dumb one?

1) Customer more or less will never tell you truth about their pain:

Yes, they do. But that is not intentional, they do not want to mislead you,,,they definitely not…but the fact is the way they describe their problem is way different than what and how they face it.

For example, say you have got a product which cleans the stairs and floors. Now if you ask them to explain about different steps they do to complete a specific task, they will more often or not, will actually explain it the ideal way the product should work. But this is often not the way they end up doing this. There are always detours which you will never get to know. These painful detour could be a gold mine for many of the usability issues to solve such that the life of customer becomes lot more easier and the value of your product too.

Always remember that these calls are the gold-mines. Reason being there is always a mental model of the product which gets associated with your customer. They expect your product to work in that way only. If it does not this is where the calls to your customer care comes in…and if you can tap in to this, you will have a better way of making your product’s life much easier and successful.

2) Nobody wants to be seen as unaware:Usually customer phone calls have multiple representatives from the customer side and often folks with varying responsibilities and varying levels of expertise of your product. It is difficult for someone who is not as good as using your product admit that it is very difficult to do something. Here is a typical scenario:

Ravi (a new user who is struggling with or learning your  product):  “You know I wish your product was easier to use when it comes to  doing <insert one of your product features here>. I use this every day and every time I use it, I more often or lose the data and you know what the performance is very very slow…”

Riya (Mrs. Power User who is also on the call):  “Oh Ravi, this is easy…very very easy. Do you even know about the product. I will show you how to do it after this call.”

Ravi is never going to call your customer care again…he shuts up from there on and all you get to hear would be from the Mrs. Power User, mostly things that are useful for the power users.This is where you have to choose smartly, as to what you want to do…you may be having this guy who knows in and all about you product but to shun the other guy who does not have much info about your product, you have to explain them with ease and efforts. You probably would like to meet them over a call and understand.

3) Surveys: In order to do a quantitative evaluations,this is the best tool but only to augment the qualitative data gathering you have done via customer visits. Again when responding to survey questions, customers will answer on how they think they are doing something vs. how they really do it. Surveys typically do not capture the real pain points customers experience. The customer also tend to propose solutions when responding to survey questions as opposed to explaining the real problem that needs to be solved. Survey responses by their very nature are monologues and are not a conversation.

4) Customers do not know what they do not know: Observer and get respected, observe your customer, this is the only way with which you can understand their pain point. At time doing this help you in making sure that you are able to observe all the inefficient things that they do by second nature. By observing these things and by solving them, you would provide solutions to problems that the customer did not even know he had. You get respected for your ability to look out for the customer.

5) Best way to understand the ‘Native’ habits of your customers: Where does the customer spend his time when he is working? A nice cushy air conditioned office? Or a dump that is next to the manufacturing floor where it is noisy and dusty as hell? How computer savvy are they? You playing around with your website as a product probably know in and out of it, and at every moment have this idea or notion that your customer would also know the same…you know where to find what information, but is it exactly the way your customer also think, probably not. For them it is new as new as any other idea. Your customer may not be tech or computer savy. What are your typical customers like? Ones that wear suits to work? Or ones that are in shorts and flip-flops?  How often do they get interrupted when trying to use your product? All of this will help you build up the customer persona you are designing for and also understand where your product fits in the customer’s working life. This is not possible without visiting your customer, without understanding their pain point or without even thinking the way customer think!


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