Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

You’ve heard it a thousand times in a thousand different contexts: “Walk a mile in their shoes.” And, while it immediately seems an adage only applicable to your personal realm, I want to urge you to consider it in a professional context. What if walking a mile in your clients’ shoes led to better service initiatives? What if it helped with client retention? The familiar saying seems a little more interesting now, doesn’t it?

You already know that thinking like a consumer can help to better position your product or service. But take that one step further—don’t only try to meet and anticipate client needs; instead, think of adapting to external circumstances. I’ll give you an example. In today’s tough economic times, Subway has extended their $5.00 foot-long deal to apply to all sandwiches and eliminated any “for a limited time only” warnings. The success of this new pricing structure has been monumental. It has been so successful, in fact, that a top competitor, Quizno’s, recently introduced the $4.00 torpedo to compete. Why is this successful? Because consumers appreciate that companies realize it is tough out here and saving a few bucks is important.

You are probably thinking that this strategy is easy to implement when you are selling sandwiches. But let me tell you how it can be effective in other industries. Here at Optimal we had a client who desperately needed an exchange upgrade because they were rapidly running out of space. The client, however, didn’t have the $6,000.00 it was going to cost. So, we came up with a less expensive alternative that saved them 65 percent. In doing so, we also gave them back the power to decide when to upgrade because it was no longer an immediate necessity. Did we lose revenue in the short-term? Yes. But we built client goodwill and strengthened the client relationship—which will pay off in the long-term.

I want to hear from you! Respond to one, all or none of the questions below. I just want to hear your thoughts!

  • Do you agree with me? Do you think that being sensitive to external circumstances is essential to delivering exceptional service?
  • Do you disagree? Do you think that companies could lose a lot of money by implementing this service strategy?
  • Is there a business that has been adapting to the external environment with their promotions or pricing strategies especially well? A business that has failed to do this and suffered?