Better Understand Your Customers’ Needs with Follow-Me-Home
During my first years as a product manager at Intuit, I was introduced to an important technique called “Follow-Me-Home.” Around the same time I discovered the concept of “Genchi Genbutsu.” This Japanese phrase translates to “go and see [for yourself]” and has been referenced in great books I’ve read such as The Toyota Way and The Lean Startup.
Combined, these two concepts were the guiding principles for the LabTech “Follow-Me-Home” Program, a technique that requires observing actual and potential customers doing their work in their environment.
At LabTech Software, we embrace this model within our product teams, relying on it as one of many critical listening posts. We have come to realize that this model can be adapted to form a tighter product design, service offering and problem solving bond.
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When practiced, measured and refined, “Follow-Me-Home” fuels the pursuit of a phenomenon called customer delight. What’s “customer delight?” You can think of it as the lasting impression you make on a customer through a provided product or service. This kind of customer reaction is unforgettable. Your client can’t imagine going back to the old way of doing something and now has a higher expectation when doing something similar.
In order to use “Follow-Me-Home” and achieve “customer delight,” start with these success criteria:
- Avoid turning it into an expensive survey. A clipboard with a series of predefined questions doesn’t create a connection with customers.
- Spend at least 50% of your time observing actual and potential customers doing their work.
- Open your mind to their processes and the unexpected ways that they accomplish their tasks.
Next, you need your team:
- The Facilitator – The leader of the discussion, pacer of ideas and leader of the thought process.
- The Note Taker – The group scribe, recorder of all conversation in the meeting.
- The Observer – The listener, devil’s advocate and director of ideas.
Now, you’re ready to visit your customer.
- Set Expectations
- Prepare yourself and your customer: Send an agenda a week ahead of your visit so your customer knows your intent.
- Show respect: Be on time, well-dressed and ready to start.
- Create a connection: Bring donuts, take them to lunch and relax with your customer.
- Spend at minimum two hours on-site with the existing customer or prospect.
- Ask For Their Point of View
- Ask the basics: What do they do, how long have they done it, what company roles exist?
- Stay focused: Introductions should take no more than 30 minutes.
- Observe and Engage
- Record: Use technology to your advantage and record the use of their product or service.
- Step Back: Understand first, do not rush to fix. If you have time after the session, provide tips based on your observation, but remember why you are there. It’s not an implementation job or a support call.
- Time Your Questions: Ask your questions at the best time for the client (usually when the workflow is completed), not as soon as you think them.
- Ask Why: Understand the purpose behind actions. Ask WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY!
- Take the Road Less Traveled: Don’t be afraid to venture off topic and seek out the “aha” moments that often hide on other paths.
- Prepare for Innovation and Inspiration: Write down all of the surprises you encounter.
Start the feedback loop.
- Communicate Efficiently
- Focus: Don’t get overwhelmed by data. Choose the most critical findings.
- Don’t Wait: Type up your notes within 24 hours to trigger new thoughts and forgotten moments.
- Create: Use your information to associate findings with existing strategies and plans. Track the frequency of specific items to help see the bigger picture.
- Share: Share your findings with key stakeholders.
- Rinse and Repeat: Be prepared to continue the process.
“Follow-Me-Home” applies to all forms of service and product, and can be adapted to any business model. The lessons and growth we’ve experienced here at LabTech Software are worth spreading throughout our world and into yours. A better tomorrow can be found in your own “Follow-Me-Home” strategy.
You need only lay a foundation.
- The Customer First: Focus on your customers’ experience by observing their usage and needs.
- Delight: Rise above your customers’ expectations and build a relationship of trust.
- Share: Send them what you learned from the visit, including what you plan to change with the knowledge you’ve gleaned.
- Analyze: Look at your findings to create new and better services based on their pain points.
- Strategize: Embrace a Follow-Me-Home strategy and set yourself apart from the competition.
We encourage our teams to forget what they know and what they want to prove so they can focus on what customers say. Prepare to be wrong about first reactions and long-held beliefs. Remember your elementary school field trip days. Feel that anticipation and excitement. They were so fun, right? It got you out of your day-to-day routine and into interesting environments … and you usually came back smarter than when you woke up that day!
So get out there and see for yourself. Genchi Genbutsu!!
If you would like to be considered for a LabTech Follow-Me-Home, send an email to PM@labtechsoftware.com.