The Customer Perspective: How to See Your Finance Program the Way Your Customer Sees It
You’ve probably heard and quite possibly used the phrase ‘walk a mile in their shoes,’ as in, ‘you don’t really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes.’ To walk a mile in someone else’s shoes just means to see things from their perspective and understand their experience. But the truth is that walking a mile in someone else’s shoes isn’t easy. To really immerse yourself in someone else’s point of view, you have to step out of your own. And that can be pretty difficult to do, for a lot of reasons.
One reason why it’s so hard is that seeing something the way someone else sees it isn’t just a matter of imagination. Sure, you can try to imagine what they are thinking and how they are feeling, but, more than likely, this imagined scenario will just be a reflection of your own perspective. The easiest way to put this to the test is with a married couple. If you ask a husband and wife to take a step back during an argument and imagine things from their spouse’s perspective, they can certainly do so; but they will probably just end up projecting their own desires onto their spouse and frame themselves as being in the right, even if they don’t mean to. It’s simply human nature.
The same principle applies in the business world as well. When it comes to data analysis, it’s always risky to go in with a pre-drawn or preferred conclusion. If you know the answer you are hoping to get, it makes it likelier that you will skew the data or data collection, even if only consciously, to better fit your preferred outcome.
The Retail Finance Perspective
For a more specific example, let’s consider retail consumer finance. And let’s say there is a retail business owner who is looking to scale down the size of their finance program, because they aren’t seeing the results they are after and they think their team members are spending too much time on it. They may analyze the outcomes of their consumer finance program and see that it is not moving the needle on revenue, and decide to devote less time and resources to it as a result.
But in doing so, they also fail to properly analyze the real causes of their consumer finance program’s failure, and, most significantly, they completely fail to take the customer perspective into account. They imagine the customer’s point of view is similar to their own: that financing is a helpful option from time to time, but really isn’t all that important in the overall scheme of things. Business owners that come to that kind of hasty conclusion are, sadly, leaving money on the table.
Adopting the Customer’s Frame of Reference
Your frame of reference – your way of seeing the world and reality – is what defines your perception of events and outcomes. To get out of your frame of reference and into that of your retail customers requires you to not only make a leap of imagination, but to also extensively research and exhaustively examine the perspective of your customers. It’s not enough to guess what your customers are looking for; you need to ask them.
A brief, simple survey can go a long way towards understanding what your customers like about your consumer finance program and where it can be improved. Don’t ask leading questions; ask relatively neutral questions, and some open-ended ones, where the customer has the chance to provide you with undirected feedback.
There are some assumptions you can make about your customer’s perspective right away, of course, just based on universal human behavior and desires. You know that they value their time and don’t want to wait around all day – that’s more than enough reason to focus on improving the efficiency of your consumer finance program through the use of powerful tools like FormPiper. You also know that they want to feel valued by you and your team; no one wants to feel like a number or statistic. Your customer wants to walk in the door of your business and feel like a million bucks; offering financing options to them in a friendly, transparent way can only help foster that feeling by providing them with more options. After all, everyone wants more options and no one wants to settle for less.
Ultimately, understanding your customers’ perspective means being willing to get out of your comfort zone and accept potential outcomes outside of those you anticipated or even hoped for when you set out to update your consumer finance program. And for any retail business, no matter the industry or scale, you simply cannot go wrong by putting the customer first.