Gaining Empathy with Customer
Needs and Expectations
Magic Gifts! Anthropology enters here. A deep, sophisticated, and highly methodological social science and discipline.
The one outstanding issue to achieve customer empathy is to get to the core of the customer culture. Here, anthropological field ‘researcher’ infiltrate organisational cultures to gather a deep empathic insight into the way things really are; instead of subjective supposition.
Social anthropologists go undercover in prisons, hospitals, and schools to get the unadulterated truth. Watts Wacker, who wrote, among other the books, The 500 Year Delta, went covertly into State Penitentiaries (he broke into prisons!). Other than the executive board, no one knew of him other than that he was a convitected brutal inmate. Tough job! But lead to real-world improvements for inmate prison service. Dangerous and stressful yes. Worth it? Wacker says it is.
It is the same in B2B, B2C and end-consumer culture. Empathic engagement allows the innovator to develop a deep grasp of the up-to-the-minute user settings; to extrapolate the progress into the future, and to reimagine potential needs and expectations as future offering or provision.
For one example (more below), customers that are inclined to innovate are so-called lead users. Customers that are well ahead of market trends and have needs that go a long way beyond those of the average user. Studying lead customers that have demands years ahead of mass market adopters gives a positioned to obtain early solutions to those needs.