Get out of the building
“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” – John Le Carre
It’s easy to jump to wrong conclusions in what’s happening in the minds of customers and users. Over time we think we really know them and it can lead to misunderstanding. Sometimes there can be a real difference between what they tell you and what they really believe and do. The only way to combat this is to get out and see them. Spend time with them. Talk to them. Observe them. Try to walk in their shoes. It’s easy to get caught up in your own products and services. Admiring your own code and solutions doesn’t mean it will truly work for a customer. Timesheets, spreadsheets, budgets and internal presentations will never tell you the real story of how a customer truly feels and reacts to what you’re offering.
Identify an opportunity to see a customer in their work. Observe them to see what pains they have and what they need to be successful. Is there something you can do to help them be better?