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Keeping it simple, is not that simple

Whenever you get CX professionals together it won’t take long for someone to say how we need to think like a customer or step into their shoes (through empathy).

It’s at this point I disengage and my inside voice shouts: “Excuse me! Can you even define what empathy means?”

My favorite activity to explain how this CX (customer experience) design concepts works is to ask one person to ask another to put on a jacket, by following these simple instructions:

  1. Pick up the jacket.

  2. Hold jacket with left hand.

  3. Slip right arm up through right arm hole.

  4. Pull jacket up onto right shoulder.

  5. Reach left arm behind your back.

  6. Push left arm through the left arm hole.

  7. Place both hands on the collar and pull forward to adjust the jacket.

Simple right? In your mind's eye, you managed to put on the jacket because it is something you have already learned to do. What you don’t remember is the person helping you learn when you were a child or other children you socialized with showing you what to do.

Putting on a jacket is really a complicated task:

Pick up the jacket.

How do I pick up a jacket if it’s crumpled on the floor, if I only have one working arm, or if it's inside out to start with, or if the terminology used is different - we refer to coat?

Hold jacket with left hand.

Again, how do you hold it with your left hand if you don’t know if it is your left hand or mine?

Slip right arm up through right arm hole.


Pull jacket up onto right shoulder.

At this point, you can see where I am going with this.

In essence, there is nothing wrong with the jacket (AKA: Your product). It’s the communication/education strategy that needs to be planned.

When you are designing a customer experience the following 3 concepts should be in the back of your team’s mind:

What is obvious to me may not be obvious to another

Start with the ideal use and then brainstorm what you can possibly break when using your product. The idea behind this exercise is to extend your sphere of the obvious. Your instruction may simply be missing a step – like having the jacket facing you…

Conversations with humans are ongoing. Take time to listen to complaints and compliments. This can be frustrating but will reveal what your clients are experiencing. Take the top 3 themes and really dig into the root cause and determine a plan of action. These can be used to fix or communicate in a social media campaign. In the jacket example, you may consider a short format video aimed at caregivers to teach pre-schoolers or caregivers who support those recovering from injuries. Or even a graphic representation of each step.

People do the unexpected!

Research what is happening beyond your walls - If you search how to put on a jacket you will find the most amazing content for teaching young children, teaching elderly folk who have mobility issues, and people who have suffered a stroke.

In closing, simplicity is hard to achieve and those who do it well are not always noticed but you can guarantee that those who are not simple are…noticed!

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