Whenever we deal with customers, we are asking our brains to do a lot. We are trying to see things from the customer’s perspective, to understand their issue and how to solve it quickly, and simultaneously using processes and procedures to move the interaction to its next logical step. We are using our lens to view the situation, but trying to understand the lens they might be using.

Why is it so hard to view the experience through the lens of an actual customer?

1. Your brain isn’t programmed to handle multiple things at once.

Study after study has shown that we get more stressed out, less focused and more emotionally drained if we force our brains to jump from one thing to the next too often. Our minds and bodies need to recharge frequently, and yet in today’s “always on” world, that’s a challenge for most of us.

2. Your brain works against you when you are trying to see something from another person’s perspective.

If you believe to your core that Bigfoot exists, and I tell you he doesn’t, your brain will present “logical” arguments about why your belief is right. Facts and evidence don’t matter if you have a true belief.

This is why when we hear a customer complain about a process we believe works well, we start dismissing the complaint before we are even aware we’re doing so. We find ways to call issues “user error” instead of asking the hard questions about why it was so difficult in the first place.

3. Your time is running out.

Most of us have too much to do and not enough time to do it. When a customer is asking for MORE of that time, it’s difficult not to start thinking of that to-do list in your head, what you need to pick up for tomorrow’s potluck at your kids’ school, or how exactly that meeting with your boss is going to go. This gets even more challenging if you have a phone buzzing at you or emails dinging for your attention at the same time!

What can you do?

1. Remember what impact a conversation can have.

The way we deal with customers is the way they will feel about our brand. If a customer feels neglected, disbelieved, or ignored, they will think of the brand as uncaring, pompous or ineffective. The impact a single conversation can have is incredible. And these don’t have to be traditional conversations only. This can happen via email, texting, chat or otherwise!

2. Ask yourself, am I already assuming I know?

Assuming you know the customer or their issue immediately helps you dismiss them. Try thinking about their lens. Has she had a long day at work? Is this complaint about a small nuisance that is frustrating because it’s preventing something she wants to accomplish? Has she already put in her own time trying to solve it? Where does she want to be right now? What would she rather be doing?

Providing a little understanding, compassion and even humor or delight can help that customer think your brand is caring and fun!

3. Try out the “other’s” lens often.

Yes, it’s challenging to really understand someone else’s perspective. But, like anything else, it gets better and easier with practice. If you find yourself drifting away from the actual conversation, blink! Blink a few times to center yourself and bring yourself back to the moment you are experiencing.

There is no doubt understanding one another is a daily challenge, not just while serving customers.

Doing our best to see things from someone else’s perspective isn’t a perfect science, but an imperfect art. Each one of us is full of nuance and mystery.

Why not try looking at the world through someone else’s lens? Your customers, and your brain, will thank you for it.