Understanding how to improve the customer experience from the inside out is one thing. Trying to attain the outside-in perspective is quite another! Stepping out of your own viewpoint is harder than it seems and much more challenging than we believe it should be.

But taking just three steps to better understand this perspective can help any organization improve their customer and employee experience.

Here are a few ways to get that outside-in perspective.

1. Observe your customer without direction.

For any of us veteran digital folks, we know the common drills from the observational work of digital experiences. “Tell me how you would do…” We ask customers or users to show us how they would solve a problem, conduct a specific transaction, or another specific task. The issue is when customers do things their own way and for their own reasons that we don’t even know!

In the classic book, Why We Buy, Paco Underhill shared how his observers recorded women buying underwear in the men’s section for themselves. They didn’t know this was a problem to solve because without observation, it’s too easy to assume customers are following the guidelines we create for them.

2. Keep track of words customers use in certain situations.

If your customers are using the same words to express themselves at a similar part of the journey, these can tell you a lot if you are really listening. Call center reps could listen for emotional words, like “frustrated” or “happy.”

A word cloud shared with everyone in the organization can help get the point across when it comes to how customers are actually feeling. These emotional words can go a long way towards helping those on the “inside” start seeing things from the outside-in.

3. Add some depth to words on your survey questions.

What on earth does “SOON” mean? 30 seconds? 3 days? 2 hours? This is one of those words we throw around and don’t realize it can mean very different things depending on the person and the situation.

Why not ask your customers, “When we say we’ll respond as soon as possible, what does that mean to you?” Brainstorm about all the words you use that are nebulous in this way. Here are a few to get you thinking:

  • Soon
  • Ready
  • Best
  • Highest-Quality

Your business may have its own industry vocabulary, and that’s another place to consider if you’re seeing things from the customer’s perspective.

Customers need us to think of them in their real lives.

Sometimes outside-in thinking is defined in numbers and surveys instead of truly understanding the customers. They need us to consider how we can make things easier, more understandable and maybe even more delightful for them. They need us to put on our outside-in goggles without preconceived ideas or judgement.

What are ways you can start seeing things from the outside-in?