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Eating Your Own Dog Food

Eating Your Own Dog Food

How to Improve Your Customer Experience

Do You Eat Your Own Dog Food?

John Holobinko, Managing Director, Business Reimagined, LLC

Whether or not a prospective customer engages with you or your existing customer comes back to you for repeat business is dependent on how productive you make the customer experience.

As a business owner or leader, it is far too easy to become totally focused on your internal operations. If the business doesn’t execute internally, it is hard to get things done and deliver your products and/or services on time and with high quality. As a result, it is far too easy to devote all of your attention to internal execution. However, when is the last time you looked at how a potential customer or existing customer truly experiences your company?

Eating your own dog food is an expression that means that you and your employees use the same systems and people interfaces that your your customers and potential customers have to use.  When you and your employees have to navigate across your company the same way a customer navigates, problems with the customer experience become very visible.  Issues that cause customer frustrations, for example: wasted time, dead ends, lack of information, become suddenly become visible.

But what if using the same systems day to day as your customers use is impractical of not feasible?  You can still test the customer experience and do so on a periodic basis.  Here are some examples:

  • Go to your website as if you were a new visitor, or better yet, have your spouse or a friend or a teen child do this while you silently watch.  From your website, exactly what does your business do?  How easy is it to find a product? 
  • Get someone new to call in to your company.  Have them try to get information about the company. 
  • Have someone act as an existing customer and speak to someone about customer support or other service.
  • Make an online product/service inquiry via an unfamiliar email address.  Observe the follow up both in terms of time to respond and quality of response.

Being curious of how your company is perceived and how it is experienced by the customer in everyday operations will provide you a wealth of information.  It will give you perspective on the culture of your organization from an outsider’s perspective – the perspective that counts the most.  And it will enable you to improve the customer experience, ultimately growing your customer base and increasing your repeat business.

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