At work, I was a rock star. My clients not only loved the work I did to help them understand and improve their customer experience, but they profited handsomely from it. This led to more incredible opportunities for me to do the type of projects I loved.
While I was killing it at the office though, things weren’t as great at home.
Things weren’t bad, I wasn’t on the brink of a personal disaster. But, I had the nagging feeling that I could be a better father and husband. I knew that my family needed more from me. The truth is I delayed doing anything to change my family life because I didn’t even understand the problem.
Then it hit me. I have spent much of my professional life helping companies improve their customer experience. I could use these same skills in my own home to improve how I interacted with my wife and children.
First I had to get a grip on what the issues were.
Defining the Customer Experience for My Family
The first step in any attempt to improve the customer experience is to define and map the current customer experience. You need to discover your weaknesses and develop a baseline so you know if future changes are having the desired impact.
A customer experience map is a simple diagram to illustrate the journey a customer goes through during their buying cycle. Once you have the map you can identify bottlenecks, place where customers get trapped or lost. Then, you can go to work addressing those bottlenecks.
When I mapped the customer experience I was delivering to my spouse and my children, I discovered that I had a big problem. I could map some of their experience, but I didn’t know what experience they wanted.
I had to do some digging to discover what my family wanted and needed from me.
What I found surprised me. I thought my family would tell me they wanted more of my time. However, analyzing their feedback, I realized they really wanted more of my attention. They wanted me to be present when we were together. They wanted me to engage with them more regarding their interests.
Setting aside 30-minute blocks of time for my family didn’t improve their experience. What they needed wasn’t dependent on the amount of time, it was dependent on the amount of attention.
With the feedback from my family, I was able to craft a customer experience map that reflected how my spouse and children wanted to experience me as a husband and father.
This led me to change how I engaged with my family and the reality is, it actually requires less time. Because, when they receive my full attention, their needs are met more quickly.
I felt like they needed more time because they weren’t getting what they needed in the time I was giving them. When I started giving them what they needed, the amount of time required decreased.
One area where my clients consistently struggle is properly allocating resources to improve customer experience. It isn’t enough to simply deploy more technology or dispatch more people to deal with customer experience issues.
The key is developing the right systems. These systems need to make efficient use of the technology and people available. When it comes to improving customer experience, you need a scalable system that allocates your resources in the ways customers care about. If the resources are spent on things that do not impact the customer experience they are wasted.
I had different resources than my clients. But, like the businesses I work with every day, my resources are finite. I needed to develop a system to allocate my limited resources in ways that my spouse and children care about the most. Two resources I needed to do a better job of allocating were attention and interest.
While attention and interest are two different things, you cannot give anything adequate attention without also being sincerely interested. I had to do more than find time for my family or even give more attention. I had to find a way to make sure that the time and attention I gave, made them feel like they were truly the priority.
I had to learn to not just manage my time but to manage my interest. It was amazing to me how big a difference it made when I made even minor attempts to be more focused and present when with my family. It required much less of a time commitment than I had anticipated. My body had already been spending a lot of time with my spouse and my children. But, once I started paying attention that time became more meaningful.
Before, I was misallocating my resources when it came to my family. I didn’t have to create new resources to improve the way they experienced time with me. I just had to change the way my limited resources were allocated.
Not surprisingly, I found that as their customer experience improved, my personal happiness also improved.
I teach my clients that the customer experience must be informed by feedback loops. Excellent customer experience is dynamic. Feedback loops allow the business to regularly collect feedback and make adjustments in response to the feedback. This keeps a company from getting caught flat-footed when market conditions change. They will see these changes in the feedback loops before they see them in their profit and loss statements.
While changing the way I allocated my resources with my family mad a big impact, I knew that those needs and desires would change over time. Building Lego Pokémon might not be the interest and attention my boys would want in 6 months. So, I installed feedback loops in my relationship with my wife and children.
It was uncomfortable at first. However, the feedback was incredibly useful. I learned things about the way my own family perceived me that I would never have guessed. I was able to use their feedback to make additional tweaks in the way I spent my time and interacted with each member of my family.
Every company understands that business is about relationships. The better companies manage their relationships with their customers the more profitable they will be.
When I started treating my family like customers I began focusing on the state of our relationships. I found that I could improve our closeness by prioritizing those things that were most important to them. It took treating my family like customers to realize I was doing a poor job of managing the most important relationships in my life.
Instead of an increase in profits, taking my family on a customer journey has given each of us an increase of happiness and love. That is the best return on investment I could ever ask for.
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