De Niro, Brando, Day-Lewis, Ledger, Hoffman — the best of the best in their trade of acting for the big screen. These greats have devoted their life to pursuing perfection in the roles they play by immersing themselves into the actual realism of the character. Otherwise known as method acting.

Method acting at its core is when an actor becomes the character they are playing, both on and off the screen. Gaining and losing weight, changing accents or appearances, spending time with the type of people the character would spend time with ... all elements of method acting that allow actors to become as realistic as possible to achieve the best on-film performance.

Though many consider this technique to be a bit extreme, it’s effectiveness can’t be discounted.

This same technique can help you achieve something you may not expect — next generation customer experience.

Let me explain.

Brands spend exorbitant amounts of dollars, resources and time to connect with their customer base to understand them better. What makes a consumer tick? What is important to them? How can we transmute our brand to connect emotionally with our consumers to evoke human-like connotations and synergy?

All great questions — and the key to achieving this in 2022 and beyond is this — take a page from method acting.

Be the Customer

Instead of asking customers what’s important to them through various Voice of the Customer (VoC) touch points, actually live their experiences for a period of time. Take all the elements and contextual KPIs you know about your customer and apply it to your daily life.

Immerse yourself in the "day-to-day" of your customer, and attempt to remove any bias you may have, to feel what they are feeling when interacting with your brand and the experiences you’ve built for them.

Here are three approaches to leverage when stepping onto the stage as a method customer:

Research: Understanding the 'Who' in Your Customer

Before "becoming" your customer, you need to understand who they are. Not just what they purchase from you, but who they are as a person. What are their values, what’s important to them, what does their job and family look like?

Much of this may be challenging to find at the start, but I suggest connecting with some of your customers and asking them questions that might reveal some of this. You may also be able to uncover elements about who they are through various analytics and KPI systems your business may be leveraging. Just like with method acting, it’s important to understand the role before you live it.

Relate: Walk (Run?) In Your Customer's Shoes

The research of your customer forms the foundation of the character and the role. The next phase is to relate and live this role as much as you can. If you’re the world’s leading athletic running shoe manufacture that builds shoes for marathon runners, run a marathon in the shoe you sell. If you’re an international airline that just offered a new business class seating option to Dubai from New York, fly to Dubai from New York in business class.

Learning Opportunities

Live the experiences you’ve built for your customers. Put yourself in their shoes, literally, and relate to what they feel as they are living in these experiences.

Related Article: Do You Really Know Who Your Customers Are?

React: What Did the Customer's Experience Tell You?

Once you’ve related to what your customer has and does experience, take time to digest and react to what you've experienced. How did it feel? What felt disconnected or broken? Did the experience make you want to do it again or was it not in line with expectations?

You’ll likely discover new things and pivots that need to be made in this customer experience, simply by living it, that you didn’t previously consider — and that’s the point. The only true way to innovate a customer experience is by living it yourself, hearing what customers are saying then making genuine, tangible changes. Once these changes have been made — ensure success by tracking changes in KPIs like customer lifetime value (CLTV), Net Promoter Score (NPS), etc.

Related Article: 4 Ways to Drive Better Voice of the Customer Feedback 

Conclusion: Live the Customer Experience, Accept Academy Award

Great customer experience is a dish best served through curated realism. Dig deep on what emotional state they are in when they are purchasing from you, and what emotional state they are in post-purchase. How can your brand help evoke human-like, relatable characteristics that create brand affinity and loyalty that lasts through experiences? Divulge into becoming a method customer for a period of time, and you’ll find answers to questions you didn’t even know existed.

Don Corleone once said, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse...” Build experiences for your customers, that are inspired by their desires, needs and emotions by living their life to truly understand what’s important to them as people.

And I promise: you’ll hear your name called, you'll be asked to the stage to accept an award for "Best Customer Experience in a Leading Role." And perhaps, the first words out of your mouth will be, “You talkin' to me?”