Are Your Sure You See The World Through Your Customer’s Eyes?

From CRM to CEM: is it as easy as it sounds?

With CRM’ organisations took an’ inside-out’ approach to doing business with customers, though I doubt they knew that is what they were doing when they were doing it.  When this didn’t work out as planned, some shifted to advocating  an ‘outside-in’ approach and called it Customer Experience Management.  I get that when it comes to writing or talking it is easy to shift from ‘inside-out’ to ‘outside-in’.  What is it like in practice?  What does it take to truly see the world through the eyes of our customers?

My experience is that really takes something to see the world through the eyes of another.  My experience is that it is a huge ask to experience the world as another experiences it.  My experience is that it is all to easy to be persuade oneself that one has shifted from an ‘inside-out’ view to an ‘outside-in’ view and yet be firmly stuck in an ‘inside-out’ view.

Aravind Eye Hospital: where ‘free’ costs 100 rupees!

What does it really take to see the world through the eyes of our customers?  Allow me to share this example which I came across in a wonderful book, which I throughly recommend reading, called Infinite Vision:

While giving away free services might appear to be easy, Aravind’s experience proved to the contrary. “In the early days, we didn’t know better,”……”We would go to the villages, screen patients, and tell those who needed surgery to come to the hospital for free treatment. Some showed up, but a lot of them did not. It was really puzzling to us. Why would someone turn down the chance to see again?” Fear, superstition, and cultural indifference can all be very real barriers to accessing medical care, but Aravind’s leaders were convinced that there was more to it than that. After a few more years and several ineffective pilots of door-to-door counseling, they arrived at the crux of the issue. “Enlightenment came when we talked to a blind beggar,”….. When pressed on why he had not shown up to have his sight restored, the man replied, “You told me to come to the hospital. To do that, I would have to pay bus fare then find money for food and medicines. Your ‘free’ surgery costs me 100 rupees.”

…….. The research found that transport and sustenance costs, along with lost wages for oneself and accompanying family member, were daunting consideration for the rural patient. Aravind learned a valuable lesson: just because people need something you are offering for free, it does not mean they will take you up on it.  You have to make it viable for them to access your service in the context of their realities.

Aravind Eye Hospital: it is not enough to see the world through customer eyes, you have to be moved to act

So that is the first step, genuinely seeing the world through the context of the lives of your customers.  And it is makes no difference at all unless your organisations acts on what it has learnt.  What did the folks at Aravind do?  Let’s  read some more from the book:

So Aravind retrofitted its outreach services to address the chief barriers. In addition to the free screening at the eye camps, patients were given a free ride to one of its base hospitals, where they received surgery, accommodation, food, postoperative medication, return transport, and a follow up visit in their village, all free of charge……

What difference did this make?  Once more from the book:

“Once we did that, of course, our expenses went up,”…… “But more importantly, our acceptance rate for surgery went up from roughly 5 percent to about 80 percent.” For an organisation aspiring to rid the world of needless blindness, this was tremendously significant….

Aravind: two things are critical

What do the folks at Aravind say about this experience of theirs? Let’s listen and learn:

“In hindsight, we found two things are critical,”…..”You have to focus on the nonuser, and you have to passionately own the problem. You can address the barriers only when you own, not shift, the problems.” Paradoxically, that mindset led to what is perhaps the most collaborative outreach system the world of eye care has ever seen.

And finally

How does your organisation measure up?  Do you really get how your organisation, your offer, shows up for your prospects?  Do you really get how your customers experience your organisation across the customer journey?  Is your leadership committed to doing what it takes to make it easy for prospects to buy from you? And for customers to keep doing business with you?  Is your organisation up for passionately owning the problem or is it designed to hide and/or shift the problems on to customers and others?

 

Posted on April 29, 2013, in Case Studies, CRM, Culture, Customer Experience, Customer Insight (inc VoC), Leadership / Change / Transformation, Marketing, Sales, Service Design and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Maz, a good story but can you ever really know if you are seeing the world through somebody else’s eyes?

    How would you?

    James

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    • Hello James

      I find myself in agreement with you. You and I can never be sure that we do see the world through the eyes of another person. And this very fact should encourage us to be humble about how much we really do know about others and their experience. This humility would encourage us to ‘go out and explore’ the life of the other. Here, George Orwell comes to mind. To understand the experience of the poor he lived like/amongst the poor on the streets of London and Paris.

      All the best
      Maz

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  2. Thanks for the perspective Maz! Your reflection made me think of all of the best of intentions that we have for those whom we serve. Even such a generous and charitable offer as Aravind Eye Hospital made that objectively-speaking was a wonderful outreach to the community presented its own challenges — as you explained. Another example: excellent and very clear discharge instructions are provided to a patient. The patient goes home after hospitalization and knows that he/she needs to eat well and take their medications. Yet, without necessary transportation, the patient is “stuck” at home and unable to buy healthy foods and refill medications. We do really need to see fully and completely through the eyes of others in order to fully partner. Thank you for the article!

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    • Hello Doug

      What can I say? What a delight to hear your voice once more! I thank you for the kindness that you bestow upon me, once more.

      You make such a great point on the patient experience. I did something similar when I was doing some consulting with a health insurance company. What became clear was a huge opportunity to make a difference if one steps outside of one’s industry definition and focusses on the customer experience from the customer perspective.

      All the best
      Maz

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