As part of my job on the Customer Experience Design team at Citrix, I’m often asked to facilitate events to help Citrix employees better understand our customers.

This is part of an ongoing effort to maintain our focus as a human outcomes company. At the end of the day, we believe (as I’m sure many of you do, too) that our success depends on delivering the best products, and the best experiences for our customers across their entire journey with us.

Several weeks ago, while planning such an event, one of the organizers asked me a simple question.

“We might not have enough time to include actual customer interviews this time around… instead, can we prepare some data or personas to describe the customer and their top problems?”

It’s a perfectly legitimate question. I ask myself the same question when I’m faced with a tight timeline or large initiative. Customers are busy people and the last thing we want to do is inconvenience them. Like many organizations, we have a ton of great survey data with up-to-date information on customer problems and opportunities. Plus, interacting with customers can be uncomfortable.

Well, last week we completed the event I was telling you about.  We ended up finding a way to get the participants in direct contact with customers. The team was so glad we did, because the customer interactions were by far the most impactful part of the day. My favorite quote from one of the participants was, “I never realized our customers are so different from us.”  This participant had interacted with several end users who seemed intimidated by technical tasks that most Citrix employees might find routine – like changing a browser setting. These are deep, meaningful insights that will change the way the team approaches creating solutions.  And it’s not something the team could have gleaned from a survey, report or presentation.

When was the last time you sat down with one of your end users and asked them about their experience with I.T.? 

I’m not talking about that angry helpdesk caller you calmed down or that business leader who complained about their iPad not working right. I’m talking about pulling one of your end users aside during a non-crisis situation and spending 30 minutes just asking them what it has been like as a customer of your team.

  • What were their expectations of I.T. even before they joined your company?
  • What was their I.T. onboarding like when they joined and how did it meet or miss their expectations?
  • What does their day-in-the-life look like?
  • What do they think of the I.T. support experience?
  • Any juicy stories about how I.T. equipment, apps or services ruined or saved their day?

If you’ve done this recently, please leave a comment below and let us know what you learned!  If you haven’t, I challenge you to set aside some time in the next week to try it.

It sounds so simple but most of us rarely do it. We try to use analytics and reports as a proxy to predict what those experiences are like for our users.  Or, we put a bunch of our smartest people in a room and assume we know what it’s like to be a customer.  But we don’t.  Our customers are different than us.  And, while analytics, reports and smart people are essential; they don’t adequately convey those underlying needs and strong emotions that your customers inevitably carry with them.

Ultimately, when we set aside time to talk with our customers early and often, boy does it pay dividends. They begin to trust us as engaged partners who understand their needs, not distant strangers.  They readily adopt – and even advocate for – the solutions we put out there.  They reach out to us for help rather than develop inefficient and insecure workarounds of their own.  They ask us for advice early on, rather than wait until their need is an urgent, the-sky-is-falling crisis that must be resolved in the next 10 minutes.

That’s why Citrix Synergy is such a special time of year for the Customer Experience Team. It’s one of the primary opportunities for Citrix employees and leaders to carve out time to ask you, our customers, about your experience with us face-to-face.  To ask your advice early on and get your input on critical moments in your I.T. journey.  And it’s a great chance for you to look us in the eye, give us the feedback we need to hear, and tell your stories that need to be told.  We want to hear about our products, yes, and also about your overall experience with us, from the first time you became aware of Citrix all the way through to today.

So, if you want to influence our product roadmap and user experience, sign up for one of more than 70 product feedback sessions at Synergy.

If your feedback for Citrix goes beyond our products (or if you just want to chat with me and other experience design experts), stop by our Customer Experience booth in the Solutions Expo.  At the booth, you can take advantage of:

If you can’t make it to Synergy just reach out to us on Twitter at @CitrixCX or via email at  We’re always available to talk about your experience!