Two weekends ago, I had the wonderful pleasure of driving with my recently turned 16 year-old cousin, Nate.

And to his credit I must say that most of my fears of driving with such an inexperienced motorist were allayed quite well by my young relative.

Other than the fact that Nate has a penchant for a few “You gotta be aggressive” moves that I otherwise wouldn’t execute, the kid’s got a great future ahead of him on our nation’s motorways.

But that all changed when we pulled into the gas station.

I don’t remember the first time I pumped gas.

It could have been when I was 10. It could have been when I was 16. But, whenever it was, I am confident that I did, in fact, pump gas for the first time at some point in my life.

What did that look like? How did it go?

I’m assuming it went well. I mean. I clearly accomplished my goals, right?

Well. Lucky for me I got the pleasure of witnessing someone’s first time getting gas once more in my life. And I can confidently say that gas stations are not well set up for newbs! Here’s a list of the mistakes Nate made:

  1. He was in a car he’d driven rarely, so he didn’t know what side the gas tank was on. He also didn’t know that the little icon by the fuel gauge told him that information.
  2. He pulled into a pump at the station as to cause the most amount of blockage of other cars trying to get to a pump.
  3. He thought that the gas cap was opened via a latch on the floorboard of the driver’s seat when really it was a manual open situation. (He, of course, accidentally opened the hood.)
  4. He almost forgot to turn off the car before pumping. (I’ll give him credit that he remembered this at the last moment.)
  5. He attempted to start pumping the fuel prior to selecting which octane level he wanted.

As you can imagine, as I was watching this morality play unfold there were a number of thoughts going through my head filed under the “Was this kid born under a rock?” category.

When that hood was opened, I had to do everything in my power not to laugh at my cousin.

But as time has worn on, I actually think that those 120 seconds were a very friendly reminder of “the curse of knowledge.”

Jane Kennedy, in her 1989 journal article Debiasing the Curse of Knowledge in Audit Judgement, describes the curse of knowledge of occurring when “in predicting others’ knowledge or forecasts, individuals are unable to ignore knowledge they have that others do not have or when they are unable to disregard information already processed.”

In layman’s terms, I like to define the curse of knowledge as being unable to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

If you asked me prior to Saturday whether it was difficult to pump gas, my answer would be a resounding no! But after seeing how difficult it was for someone who had never done it, now I’m not so sure.

We deal with this all the time at Metric, and my hunch is that we’re not alone.

Spend a day in our office and you’ll see why this is such a problem. We’re a group of tech-obsessed individuals surrounded by each other. All the feedback loops are in service of the group rallying around innovation, not the customer experience.

Yet our clients, customers, and partners are franchises, small businesses, event planners, and other enterprises. Putting ourselves in the shoes of our buyers is incredibly difficult; something that we struggle to do quite frequently.

And I’d like to think that an otherwise uneventful trip to the gas station was a friendly reminder that not everyone sees the world the way I do. And being able to acknowledge that people may see challenges differently can cause us here at Metric to not only be more sympathetic but to lead to delivering a superior experience for our clients. One where we’re on the same page.


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