When was the last time you were your customer?

When was the last time you were your customer?

You say you’ve got social media strategy. You say you’ve got great service. You say you’re customer-focused, customer-centric, and the customer is always right.

When was the last time you tested it out?

If you manage business for more than a sole proprietorship, then give your business a service test. Set up a list of a few tasks and go test out your sales and service teams. Call them up anonymously or set up a fake email account and try your internal processes out. If you work at a small business where you’d be recognized on the phone, have a friend do it for you.

Chris Penn
“Press 1 if you would prefer to talk to a machine.”

Back in the day when I helped to run a call center, I’d have old college friends give the team a series of calls with a list of 3 tasks to accomplish:

1. Call in with a question. The correct answer the representative should give you is X. Score them 1-5 based on how close they get it right.

2. Call in requesting an application for the product. Write down the questions the representative asks you to ensure you’re qualified. At a minimum, they should ask you these 3 questions. Score them 5 points for each question they ask.

3. Email in requesting an application. A representative should respond and try to get you on the phone. Time how long it takes between your initial email and a response from a representative. Start with 30 points and deduct one point per every 5 minutes you wait. Scores can go negative!

At the end, they’d total up the number of points and email it to me. They’d call in at different times, different days, sometimes calling in and hanging up if they’d already talked to that person recently. Based on that, we’d know who was doing their jobs more or less well. Most important, we didn’t need to rely on guesswork to assess how we were doing.

Setting up a system like this isn’t difficult at all. It requires some thought about what tasks you value the most to be measured, and it does require having some friends willing to do it (or alternately, paying strangers to do it), but beyond that, it’s just a matter of having the testing pool go out and test your team.

Go out and be your customer. See if the experience you have matches what you expect your customers to have, and then make corrections as appropriate.


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  • Whitney Hoffman

    I’m always amazed how people dont even try to navigate and test their own website, or watch as someone tries to navigate their site.  I think even all web designers should be doing these tests before going live. 

    I find so many mistakes that get between a customer and a purchase, which should be the first no no in e-commerce.  This morning, for example, Starbucks has a ridiculous loop that makes using its paypal option non-functional. (Kids love those large insulated sippy cups, but the straws disappear, making ordering some more an issue) A little testing would help immensely and save you abandoned shopping carts.