As an independent consultant, I pitch my services a lot. I consider myself fortunate that I get the opportunity to chat with so many great companies (okay, and some not-so-great ones) about what user experience is and what value it could provide to their businesses.
Without a doubt, the most difficult service for me to sell in to a new client is user research — and not only is it my favorite part of the process, I also think it’s the most crucial part. Most companies don’t fail because they chose a checkbox when they should have used a radio button; they fail because they didn’t take the time to listen to their customers.
The other day I caught the Nationwide Insurance commercial in which “The World’s Greatest Spokesperson in the World!” visits the home of a prospective customer, Pam, and interviews her on her porch about her experiences buying insurance and pet insurance.
Take a moment to watch it now:
Spokesperson: “Nationwide Insurance, I’m all ears.”
Pam: “I bought my policy online, and I haven’t heard from the company since.”
Spokesperson into his company telephone: “When Pam switches to Nationwide Insurance, we’re not going to treat her like Policy 413. We’re going to treat her like Pam — get to know her, be proactive. Oh, and rename the company NationPam.”
Pam [Cooing]: “Ooh.”
Spokesperson: “Done. [Singing] ‘NationPam is on your…Sam…’ We’ll make that work.”
Fine, it’s a silly commercial, over the top. But there’s a significance to its message: they want to show that they recognize the value of listening — understanding their customers’ frustrations — and care about making the customer experience more pleasurable.
Here are my takeaways:
- He goes to her house to talk to her — on her turf, not in some sterile focus group
- His posture, tone and word choice demonstrate his eagerness to listen
- He reports back to the company both the problem statement and the intended solution
- He goes beyond the call of duty to make her feel special and appreciated
- He demonstrates that maintaining a long-standing brand identity while adjusting to meet customers’ needs isn’t always a graceful process, and it takes iteration (“We’ll make that work.”)
Does your company make the effort to listen to your customers? Do you approach prospective customers to understand their frustrations and devise ways to alleviate their pain? Is an image of caring part of your company’s brand promise?
What are you personally doing to help your company better meet people’s needs?
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