After attending the Marketing Association's CX Conference the one major takeaway for me was empathy. People can sometimes confuse empathy with sympathy, but it’s the nuance of the difference that’s essential to us as marketers. Sympathy is feeling the pain and emotion of other people's experience which is valuable in relating, connection, understanding and compassion. But empathy is more than that, it's connecting to another person's experience from their point of view. So instead of looking at my Aunt as a person that technology has moved past, I see my Aunt as a person who grew up through the advent of telecommunications; the rise of TV, digitalisation, and the internet. Before her smartphone had a colour screen and a built in camera, she sent pictures the ‘old fashioned way’ - Snapchat isn't out of the question though, once she get's the hang of it. This is a fuller, more robust and nuanced picture. My Aunt isn't a technophobe, the foundations are there and can be used. But it's only after we have the full picture of our persona that we can see the potential of understanding.
Marketers work on personas, they're incredibly useful for defining language, tone and channels. But on a more human level, it can increase our understanding of our customers at a personal level. Designing with your Aunt in mind, see how much more time you're willing to spend looking at the level of customer interaction, the ease of use, the aftercare that they will receive.
This is just my shortcut for thinking about the limitations of user design and user experience, but can be extrapolated further, look at the personas that you have, and look at your database. Take one out for a coffee, chat about things other than their interactions with you as an organisation. Maybe they like to swim, own 2 cats and are keen cross stitchers? Maybe they wear glasses and sometimes struggle using websites on their phone? Maybe they find that they don't get the chance to use all the vouchers that their rewards scheme sends them because they forget they have them?
Real people have real-world problems, and the insights that they provide are gold. It is only through seeing the world through another person's eyes that we can truly see them and make life a little easier for them.