6 Ways to Keep it Real for Everyone: Diversity In Experience Planning

by Jeannie Walters

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Considering how process-focused experience planning can be, it’s not terribly surprising to realize how diversity is often overlooked as a key ingredient in successful customer experience strategies.

Diversity is a critical component, in my opinion. The world is incredibly diverse, small, connected and transparent. Pretending your customers are one dimensional only amplifies the fact they’re not.

Too often, the pattern looks like this:

Entrepreneur starts company. Entrepreneur hires mini-entrepreneur look-alikes. Customers look and act a lot like small team of employees.

Until they don’t.

Diversity is a key part of experience strategy.

When conducting a Customer Experience Investigation™, we see the lack of diversity as a real detriment to the experience. Customers, regardless of personas or segments, are human beings. As such, we want to feel like we are represented and understood.

Consider this:

  • Showcasing images representing one kind of person only – in stock photos.
  • Speaking in corporate overlord language in communications aimed at Generation Y.
  • Ignoring simple and straightforward ways to include those with disabilities.
  • Underscoring cultural or contextual stereotypes and not even realizing it.
  • Translating communications in a way devoid of nuance or appropriate syntax.
  • America this and America that. If you are communicating online, you are communicating with the world. Welcome them!

diversity inexperience planning

Diversity is a big word with heavy implications.

Diversity to me represents what is best in this small world of ours. We can reach out in ways that are both amazing and scary. But with those abilities come astounding opportunities. Experience should be about creating special, positive  moments for everyone – and anyone – who is considered a customer. Are you as aware as you should be?

It’s hard to imagine a homogeneous world, and yet too many organizations act as if their customer base is as flat and boring as one color in a box of crayons.

How can you keep it real for everyone?

1. Review your imagery.

Are different groups represented? (And we all think it’s contrived to just pick the stock photo of variously racially-ambiguous, smart-looking people.) Remember your customers just want to see themselves. Be honest. Find real people.

2.Respect your customers’ lives.

Target won lots of attention for including a child model who happened to have Down syndrome. Target has customers who have children who have Down syndrome, and some of them blogged about how happy they were to see their families represented. It’s really that simple.

3. Consider the -isms and -ia that might be alive and well within your culture.

Sexism, ageism, homophobia, xenophobia…unfortunately these biases (and many others) exist and rear their ugly heads in subtle ways. If your sales people are only calling “the young ones” because they assume anyone over 35 is a luddite, they are most likely missing a huge part of the market.

4. Biases typically cut both ways.

While the high and mighty are feeling fine about being enlightened, they are often the same ones who smugly wink at each other about the other types they feel don’t get it. That is a bias, too. Watch out for alienating those who are not “mainstream” or wearing the right hipster glasses.

diversity in experience planning

5. Language, culture and community are nuanced and living organisms.

Don’t assume all Spanish-speaking people think exactly the same way. Communities often have macro attitudes, but those communities are filled with individuals with their own unique perspectives.

6. Don’t let fear get in your way.

There are plenty of people in the world with some form of disability, and yet many are afraid of how to approach or communicate with them. If you are unsure if you are addressing the right needs, it’s ok to ask.

Diversity is awesome!

It is powerful. It is also unavoidable in this small, connected, wonderful world of ours. Isn’t that amazing!? We can’t hide from each other even if we wanted to. Instead, we get to learn, share, communicate and ultimately experience the world together.

Photo credits: Rambling Vegansbrand0con and andres musta via Creative Commons license


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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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