The idea of empathy is relatively new to humans…at least the word is. Compassion is when a person sees a need, hurt, or emotion and feels a deep sense of sorrow for the other. Empathy is a step beyond that. Empathy is when a person sees another in pain and actually takes on the pain or hurt as if it is their own. Psychologically speaking, this might not actually be the most healthy thing for our species… but when it comes to understanding our customers and potential customers, we have to learn to be empathetic.
You know how it can be tough to see the faults of something you are madly in love with? I know that when I get obsessed about buying something ‘I need’ I have a hard time seeing any of the down sides or consequences of buying it. Those of us in business can be the same way with our businesses. We work hard on systems and plans and we’re so focused on our dream becoming a reality that we have a hard time deviating from the original vision. We can easily lose track of how our business is experienced by our end users and customers.
So, what’s an ‘MLTA.’ anyway? An MLTA is your Most Likely to Advocate. They are your customer that will most likely go out and brag about you on social media or tell all of their friends. They check in at your store to show they’ve been there. They share your facebook posts with their friends or forward your emails to people who they think would be interested in your product. When I lived in Barcelona, I had a favorite restaurant called Caravelle in El Raval. It was a friend who opened the restaurant, but even if didn’t know the owners, I was addicted to their food. I ate there as much as my budget could afford. And while I was there I was checking in on Facebook, posting pictures on Instagram, and telling all my friends about how much better my food was than whatever they were eating…and I was probably right. I really thought I was Caravelle’s best MLTA.
Here’s How You Can Be More Empathetic To Your M.L.T.A.s
It’s crucial to any business looking to grow to be able to jump into the shoes of their MLTA. As ‘Business 101’ as this may sound, it’s harder to be intentional about this than we may think. Here are three tips towards being empathic:
1: Walk in their shoes.
Walk into your business, visit your site, and go through your customer experience and try to imagine doing it for the first time. What questions would you ask? What product are you looking for? What information is hard to find? Does your site actually give the information that you click to?
2. Look at how you could change things for them.
Do a mock rebranding. Pretend you were starting your business or web page all over again and you couldn’t do the same thing. That would be cheating. The point isn’t the tangible outcome of the exercise. The point is opening up your mind to think differently about your beloved business.
3. Get feedback from new people.
Incentivize new people to visit your site or store for the first time and ask them to give you feedback. You could go to a coffee shop with you computer and, after mustering up some boldness, ask someone if they’d be willing to trade their opinion for a free cup of coffee. You could have people give their thoughts on the look of your site, profiles on social media, logos, and so much more in just a few minutes. (Tip: have people try to find your business by searching their favorite search engine and see what keywords or phrases they use.)
However you decide to do it, getting into the mind of your users and attempting to see how others engage your business is always a journey worth taking. You never know…you may just end up with an MLTA of your own like me: still talking about a restaurant that’s 1000s of miles away. But hey, if you visit Barcelona and eat at Caravelle because of this blog you’d be experiencing the hidden power of MLTAs (and a great meal and cup of coffee)!