A meeting never comes in isolation
A meeting is always part of someone’s day. Things happened before, things will happen after. Your meeting attendees will have rushed from another meeting, come in late, were checking their mail, will be wondering about their next meeting, have problems at home, have problems at work. So any exercise that will help to get everyone on the same page an focus on the same objective will help slightly neutralise all these distracting factors.
Customer centricity: a lot of ads, little acts
A lot of companies talk about customer centricity, but more often than not, customers, customer data, customer experience, customer stories and customer validation are not part of their daily practice. And this, while customers are real people too. This exercise is a small intervention to at least start every meeting with the customer in mind.
- Purpose of this excercise. Explain why you are inviting attendants to share a customer story. You can use the elements as describe above: the fact you want to have everyone on the same page (in contrast to thinking of the next or previous meeting) and you want to truly bring the customer into every meeting.
- Format of the customer story. Depending on the need in that specific moment, you can ask for people to reflect on the story and/or work in answers to questions like ‘What can we all learn from this?’, ‘What made this moment so special?’, ‘How can we make this a daily practice?’, ‘What is the one thing you would do to fix this?’
- Time constraint. Make clear how much time each participant has to share his/her story and keep the time.
Depending on these variables, you will most probably end up with one of three scenarios:
- As the host, you share one customer story.
- As the host, you invite someone to share a customer story.
- As the host, you invite several people to share a customer story.
Tailor your invitation to what is needed in that exact moment.
- Explain the purpose of the excercise.
- Depending on the time you have and the purpose of the excercise, invite someone to share a story, share a story yourself or have several people share a story.
- Discuss take-outs or questions collectively.
- Synthesize the key insights from the stories.
- Move on to the next subject.
Make sure people are able to see the person telling the customer story.
- Host makes sure participation is distributed, either by speaking him/herself, or by appointing other storytellers. As this exercise is often only part of the meeting, make sure to keep time.
- Participants can share their story either free format or working in specific variables/answers to questions.
- To increase the usefullness of the stories and the willingness to share amongst the attendees, consider telling them beforehand that you will be starting with a customer story and/or ask them specifically as a homework assignment to come up with one.
In November 2015, I almost died of a kidney rupture and a lung infection. It was an experience that changed my outlook on life profoundly. It was time to spend my time more wisely. First of all, I decided to make as many beautiful memories as possible. Secondly, I decided to not accept the horrible status quo of suboptimal relationships between companies and people anymore. Not as a consumer myself and certainly not as a professional. I started doing less meetings and more doings. Less powerpoints, more doing stuff. And even more than before, I obsessed about changing companies to be less about ads and more about acts – for both their customers and their colleagues. Impact is about doing. Start doing more.