One of the disgusting but useful phrases in the programming and developer community is “Eat your own dogfood”.
I am sure there are people out there who really do have to eat their own dogfood in a literal sense, but the meaning behind the phrase in our context is that you have to experience your product, content or service from an end-user perspective. If you do not have that understanding and empathy then you will inevitably not meet your full potential, or potentially create a bad experience.
Do you eat your own dogfood?
Answer honestly. Do you really understand what it is like to be your customer, to read your content, to be a member of your community, to be on the receiving end of your communications?
Most companies behave as if they know their customer. They believe they treat customers as they would like to be treated.
But then you get a sales call from them at 8pm from someone blindly reading a script. Even though you are on the do-not-call list.
I hate the telephone when I am expecting the call, I seriously loathe it when it is unsolicited. Business partners want me to sign off on follow up telephone calls quite often. They say telephone can have a great conversion rate, but I can never bring myself to go with it because I hate it when it is done to me.
Words Versus Behaviour
It can be quite telling when people do one thing but talk about something quite different.
Treat customers, readers, your community as they want to be treated. I would say “as you would like to be treated”, but we are weird freaks who read blogs, your customers might not be.
I’m not saying I am perfect, far from it. Right here on this blog there are some glaring issues that I need to address in a “do as I say, not as I do” way. My point is that the more we align our behaviour with our values, the more our choices in business match our preferences as a customer, the more we will build good experiences and better brands.
Scott Stratten has written a great book (not an affiliate link by the way, but I did get a free copy just for being awesome) about this topic. He talks about building relationships versus old skool interruption marketing. It’s kind of Seth Godin meets social media, meets satire. I am sure you will be hearing a lot about his book as his buzz machine picks up steam, but do check it out if you are into that kind of thing.