Standing in their shoes

I’ve been asked more than a few times “what makes a good marketer?” Like any profession, there are lots of skills, experiences and personal characteristics that can make someone good at marketing, and most people in marketing have a good proportion of them, but few would claim to have the full set.
One of the characteristics I really like to see in a marketer is empathy – the ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings and how they see the world. If we can build understanding of customers to a level where we can think like them, we should be able to develop more effective communication, make better product development decisions and generally be’ the voice of the customer’ in our business. There is a widely quoted Native American proverb that says “You are my friend when you walk in my moccasins.”
However, if empathy doesn’t come easily, there are some techniques that can be used to help understand a customer’s point of view and how to engage with them more powerfully. I have based the following 6 step process on a technique called ‘Perceptual Perceptions’ from an article by Di Tunney for the Marketing Society.
Think of specific situation when you didn’t get the reaction you were hoping for from a customer (or group of customers)
Place two chairs to represent you and the customer and then a third (observer’s) chair a bit further away
Sit in ‘your chair’ and replay the situation – what was said, done and how it made you feel.
Sit in the ‘customer’s chair’ and think about how the situation would have looked and felt to them. How would your words and actions have made them feel?
Now sit in the ‘observer’s chair’ and think about how the communication to the customer could have been more effective – what advice would you give yourself?
Are there any lessons from this process that can help you communicate differently with this customer or group of customers in the future?