During my first years as a product manager at Intuit, I was introduced to an important technique called “Follow-Me-Home.” Around the same time I discovered the concept of Genchi Genbutsu. This Japanese phrase translates to “go and see [for yourself]” and has been referenced in great books I’ve read such as The Toyota Way and The Lean Startup.
Combined, these two concepts were the guiding principles for the LabTech “Follow-Me-Home” Program, a technique that requires observing actual and potential customers doing their work in their environment.
When practiced, measured and refined, “Follow-Me-Home” fuels the pursuit of a phenomenon called customer delight. What’s “customer delight?” You can think of it as the lasting impression you make on a customer through a provided product or service. This kind of customer reaction is unforgettable. Your client can’t imagine going back to the old way of doing something and now has a higher expectation when doing something similar.
In order to use “Follow-Me-Home” and achieve “customer delight,” start with these success criteria:
1. Avoid turning it into an expensive survey. A clipboard with a series of predefined questions doesn’t create a connection with customers.
2. Spend at least 50% of your time observing actual and potential customers doing their work.
3. Open your mind to their processes and the unexpected ways that they accomplish their tasks.
Now, you’re ready to visit your customer.
The first step is to prepare yourself and your customer. Send an agenda a week ahead of your visit so your customer knows your intent. Next, be on time, well-dressed, and ready to start. Consider bringing donuts or take them to lunch. At a minimum, plan to spend at least two hours on-site with the existing customer or prospect.
Ask For Their Point of View
Ask the basics: what do they do, how long have they done it, what company roles exist? Make sure to stay focused; introductions should take no more than 30 minutes.
Observe and Engage
Use technology to your advantage and record the use of their product or service. Understand first, do not rush to fix. If you have time after the session, provide tips based on your observation, but remember why you are there. It’s not an implementation job or a support call.
Ask your questions at the best time for the client (usually when the workflow is completed), not as soon as you think them. Understand the purpose behind actions. Ask WHY!
Don’t get overwhelmed by data. Choose the most critical findings. Type up your notes within 24 hours to trigger new thoughts and forgotten moments. Use your information to associate findings with existing strategies and plans. Track the frequency of specific items to help see the bigger picture. Share your findings with key stakeholders, and then rinse and repeat.
“Follow-Me-Home” applies to all forms of service and product, and can be adapted to any business model. The lessons and growth we’ve experienced here at LabTech Software are worth spreading throughout our world and into yours. A better tomorrow can be found in your own “Follow-Me-Home” strategy.
If you would like to be considered for a LabTech Follow-Me-Home, send an email to PM@labtechsoftware.com.
Tony Thomas, Director of Product Management
Tony is passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation, so he’s always searching for new ways LabTech can help unlock innovation and potential in your IT business.
As Director of Product Management at LabTech Software, Tony is responsible for organizing LabTech’s product strategy and overseeing all product lifecycle functions. Since joining LabTech Software in 2011, Tony has been instrumental in working with the leadership team to drive customer adoption, penetrate emerging markets, help set overall product vision and grow revenue.
Prior to joining LabTech Software, Tony was a partner in a software company called LANware, Inc. that developed network monitoring software and was later sold to a public company. In addition, Tony has managed a variety of industry-leading IT management software products/suites, led due diligence for mergers and acquisition, created go-to-market plans for emerging technologies, and cultivated significant customer/market share growth. His background also includes design, implementation and troubleshooting TCP/IP networks and teaching network engineering courses at MTI College of Business and Technology in Houston, Texas.