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Friday, August 29, 2014

Lean Quote: Walk In Our Shoes

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"The best way to understand your customer is to become you customer and walk a mile in his shoes.— Ian D. Littman

As management guru Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” Empathy is an important component of keeping a customer.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and walk a mile.  It’s the ability to imagine what it might be like to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, and experience of the other person. Empathy is more than simple sympathy, which is being able to understand and support others with compassion or sensitivity.

Customers want to feel that we understand and appreciate their circumstances without criticism or judgment. Customers have simple expectations that we who serve them can put ourselves in their shoes, understanding what it is they came to us for in the first place.

The action of empathy, walking a mile in the shoes of your customers, allows you to connect, establish rapport and create a trusting relationship. Once the customer realizes that you are on their side, they are more willing to work with you to fix the problem, or will allow you the time to resolve the issue. And they will stay with you and tell their friends about you. They will grow your business.

Build a culture of empathy. Empathy is an essential component of caring about your customers, your employees, and your company, and its absence signals larger problems in organizational culture. Empathy can’t be plastered on like a fake smile, but it can be cultivated from within.

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