EML Group Executive - Personal Injury, Geniere Aplin discusses the importance of walking in your customers’ shoes. 

There is an old saying you can’t understand someone until you walk a mile in their shoes and for the modern leader, heading up multifaceted departments and organisations, this isn’t an easy idiom to follow. But there is an opportunity that is so often overlooked which will fundamentally change the way you see your business…and it can be found as close as a phone conversation away.

Plugging in a second set of headphones and listening to your staff connecting with customers is a great way to hear the reality of your business model as it plays out live. Calling our customers after a good or bad experience is even more insightful. I believe it is incredibly difficult to make quality executive decisions without knowing how your ‘best practice’ protocol works in real life. Or if in fact it works at all!

For more than a century EML has operated as a workers’ compensation claims manager helping injured and sick people get their lives back. EML was founded on the premise that all people should be assisted back into the workplace if injured or ill. It’s imperative to know how we are performing in the marketplace – and that starts with the customer.

I believe that while it is always important to be very clear on your business purpose, that is ‘who’ you are helping and ‘why’ you are helping them, increasingly it is the ‘how’ you are helping that needs closer scrutiny. It is vital that we cultivate compassion, grow empathy and adjust our opinions while considering the challenges of our customers, and that includes their experience of the service we are providing. This means making an effort to understand what the customer goes through from the moment they have contact with your organisation, through to their last experience and how your internal processes impact that chain of events.

Spending the time hearing customers’ voices, their challenges and barriers has had a profound impact on me both personally and professionally. It’s something I’ve liked to do at every workplace, including EML, and it has driven many of the decisions I have helped implement when designing solutions for organisations.

It is an important reality check to fully appreciate what our customers are going through; truly walking in their shoes. Most are injured and suffering, many are still going through treatment, some are a small business struggling to serve their customers when they have a team member off injured and are faced with new concepts, laws and policy definitions which are alien to them.  Many also come to EML with no knowledge of the law or workplace legislation and sometimes even no experience of the health system if they’ve never been sick before.

It is fundamental to our work at EML as life insurance and personal injury claims managers to make it as easy and smooth as possible; getting the best possible result for our customers’ return to their lives.