Seeing The World Through The Eyes Of The Front Line
It can be easy to be stuck in a certain idea of how to run your business. Here’s how to bring a fresh perspective to your business decision
A recent experience* reminded me of the importance of getting out of your office and not making decisions from inside your “ivory tower.” It is easy to make decisions on how things should be; it is another thing to actually be in the middle of how they are really working. Here are three ways to stay closer to what is really going on and improve your business decision making.
Live the customer experience
Nothing beats going out and talking to customers. From doing customer discovery, finding development partners, or getting your first paying customers, the early learnings are incredible. Furthermore, I love sitting with a customer and watching how they use your product. I always learn something new that really informs how the product design evolves. You can also host Customer Advisory Board meetings and routinely visit key clients to keep listening, watching, and learning. Sometimes this also means going through the experience as a customer (ex. restaurant, event, product, etc.). It can really be surprising how the real experience is a lot different than what you planned or are being told.
Spend a day with sales
Without sales, your business can’t grow and the sales process can be difficult. Fine tuning the pitch, value-proposition, pricing, tools, process, etc. is a necessity. One trick I learned years ago was to have your key leaders (across all functions) spend a day with a salesperson. See what potential customers look like, what questions they ask, and the challenges to be overcome. That knowledge can help refine your go-to-market strategy.
Work in a front line role
Similar to a day with sales, it is also eye-opening to experience what it is like in a front line operations or customer support role. Seeing how easy/difficult it is to deliver a great customer experience, what internal tools work well/do not, and what questions customers ask can also continue to influence your product direction and company strategy.
While it is easy to make decisions on how things should work or appear to work, remember to spend the time out in the field really seeing how they do work. One of the things I love about Atlanta Ventures is we have a Studio where we partner with entrepreneurs to start businesses from scratch. We are constantly reminded of how hard, yet how rewarding entrepreneurship can be and those learnings influence how we support entrepreneurs.
*To the recent experience I referenced, my family had just had a great day at Disney World. Then it took us over an hour to leave the park, with exit lines backed up into the park. We were then forced and crammed into overcrowded exit “lanes” like cattle, with none of the normal magical Disney experience. Then once off the monorail, we had to navigate the exit lanes with car service drivers and buses darting in/out/around the parking lots, often against the flow of traffic - quite the safety nightmare with young kids everywhere. Clearly an executive or manager from Disney had not recently participated in their park exit process like a customer.