There is no one on the planet smarter than an eager beaver just back from a best practices conference. In the sixties when my dad encountered such a person he would tell my mother, “If I ever get that smart I want you to slap me silly!” He was not one to suffer fools in the face of ill-founded arrogance.
The best practices upstart often prefaces their plea for a pet “oughta” or “shoulda” with the words, “Wearing the customer hat.” It sounds like, “At Acme they put a Filtabrator 22 in their IVR circuitry yielding a 22.4% decrease in FCR that created a 31% increase in customer sat. Wearing the customer hat, this will put us on the bleeding edge and enhance our core competency.” The “customer hat” is smug decoy for claiming, “We know what’s best for our customers.” It was likely the line of logic that said, “We just know our customers will love New Coke, Iphones without Google maps, Edsels, DeLoreans, Betamax, etc., ad nauseam!”
It is valuable to wear the customer hat! Done correctly it can help everyone in an organization remember that, in the words of Peter Drucker, “The purpose of an organization is to create and retain a customer.” Customer hats remind leaders to consider the impact of their decisions on customers. But without valid, timely customer intelligence, a customer hat alone can cause leaders to assume—a word that dissects into three words that spell a dire outcome. If the customer hat is the only covering you don to project customer expectations, you may end up dealing with the naked truth about how customers adversely react to your ill-informed decisions!