Thursday, August 05, 2010

Walking the Talk

I hit the streets everyday, for one hour, regardless of where I find myself.

When I travel it’s usually for a client, so the people and places I meet are part of the environment – the client’s audience and community. I like to see their town from a dog’s point of view - walking into local spaces and meeting people I might not see as I ride by or fly over the city.

By walking, I learn firsthand how people view our client. By visiting local coffee shops, I find out what people really think about the community. By using social media I see the challenges their customers are trying to resolve. In other words: I try to get very close to the client community.

Sometimes I hear great feedback. Sometimes I realize that something is missing – a disconnect between organizational values and leader actions, or services that don’t meet real needs. That makes for a challenging presentation, yet I am committed to helping my clients build authenticity and commitment to action in a way that improves the customer experience. Usually, that means bringing leaders physically closer to their audience.

Try it sometime. It’s healthy for leaders to leave “the safety bubble” of familiar acquaintances and places.

Walk across town, visit your customer communities and listen to the feedback. Becoming part of the busy streets, stores and less-frequented neighborhoods where your audience lives can teach you more about their needs and challenges than a survey.

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