We have all heard the phrase – “Perception is Reality”. This phrase aptly describes your relationship with your customer. Their perception is what counts, what drives and what matters. You could be doing everything ‘right’ in your opinion but what trumps is what the customer thinks as being right or most suitable for them. Only when the customer declares, that you did a great job or that the customer service was impeccable, can you gloat over the perfect execution of service or product. After all each person knows what their particular want is and unless you are focused on this aspect, you are most likely to end up frustrated and botching up your customer service.
[img src=”https://corp.yonyx.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/120px-FocusConferenceRoom1.jpg” width=”” height=”” align=”right”] When you remain focused you will, with time, become more successful in anticipating and coming out tops while serving your customers. This focus is what will point you unwaveringly towards success and perspicacity in to the mind of your customer. Focus will help you tweak your current customer service efforts and build an airtight program of the same going forward. You will be able to concede that perception can arise out of any experience and there is no fixed parameter for perception. All that is required is to keep your company’s focus on meeting and perhaps exceeding customer demands and valuing the relationship. It’s not easy since a customer’s way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted is probably poles apart from yours and over time changing perception becomes a monumental task. ‘The customer is always right’ cliché must be kept in focus to help you better deal with changing perceptions.
Keeping the cliché in mind, it is imperative for a company and its representatives to remember that perception must never be allowed to become the cause of annoyance and dissent. It will be near impossible to get to the root of problem or focus on the actual problem. It is detrimental to business sense to tell the customer that what they have understood or interpreted is incorrect – you can be sure that you will either lose the customer or have a particularly difficult customer to deal with. Remaining focused on the issue being discussed – don’t make perception the issue. Let them decide whether you are offering the best service or product and the effort to go with them.
Simple? Probably not, since perceptions in general are formed based on life experiences, mindset, and up-bringing amongst other factors. As a company you need to deal with the divide created by these as also your customer’s perception about the quality of the products and services you offer. In some cases this divide is probably greater and wider than anticipated. As a company what you can focus on, forecast and manage is your customer service and the products or service you offer. Innovate and create new ideas that are creative and not easily replicated. Make an exception for yourself by not conforming to what seem to be ‘tried and tested’ norms. This is sure to attract the attention of the discerning and even most critical customer. They will know you are thinking intelligently and differently and will be more likely to give you an opportunity to engage. Give them something that they will be proud to be associated with – that extra quality, unmatched design, new technology – anything that has been, hitherto, not brought forth.
At the helm of all this innovation, must be the focus on customer perception. Only when you design your products, create new business strategies around what the customer values, can you have some semblance of whether these offerings will be successful. As you gauge customer responses, you will slowly but surely will be better positioned to align your offerings with what your customer deems as a value add and something worth investing in with time and money. So how do you determine to start with what would divide the good from the great, what is it that needs to be focused on? Speaking to some customers (and being one myself), there are some fairly easy focus areas:
– Before actually piling your customer with information on your “new and innovative product”, engage with them. Display unfeigned empathy and a bond that puts them at ease and draws them to listening to you. Focus on making them know that you genuinely care for their opinion and their business and would love to have them as a customer. Now you have their attention.
– Still remember, that with everyone always rushed and short on time, give them something that will be easy to use. Something that your customer will be able to understand easily with a brief, minus folderol, presented by your customer service representative and / or your marketing representative. Also include that fact that payment terms and methods would be equally simple, user friendly and managed in minimal time.
– Bring their attention to the fact, that in the one-off chance that they do have a complaint or a query, your customer service and complaints handling team are amongst the best and trained to deal with any such issue with promptness and first time resolution skills.
– Assure them that once the sale is made, you have a fool-proof and ongoing system that allows you to check back with them regarding whether your product or service is working for them. Also that you would be able to provide them with up to date information on any products or services launched that you know would be beneficial for them.
[img src=”https://corp.yonyx.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/120px-Darts_in_the_middle_of_a_dartboard1.jpg” width=”” height=”” align=”right”] The importance of a steady focus on innovation and customer service cannot be overemphasized. It cannot even be confined within the space of a definition since it is ongoing and a process that must become habit if you are to succeed as a company surrounded by cut-throat competitiveness. As you delve on this what should come to mind is that you would not have a company or a business, let alone strategies, if there were no customers. They have always been and will always be the focus of your plans and day to day processes. As pointed out earlier, building a customer base through consistent and effective service is not easy. You really do not have clarity on what you are dealing with since your customers would be from different backgrounds, be culturally very diverse and are probably your top line management of a company that is always short on time and attention. This is not an exhaustive list but a really miniscule portion of why best efforts would not be rewarded with the success you feel they deserve. In some cases, probably face the invidious truth of dismal and unrecoverable failure.
We, therefore, are brought back to why keeping FOCUS on the domain of customer service and the company’s strategic plans is paramount and a company that chooses to be ignorant of this consequential fact would most certainly fail. Keeping focus may sound self-explanatory and obvious to meaning paying pointed attention but how many companies consistently and effectively are able to do that? They get so taken up and excited by their own plans and innovations that they forget that the reason they are doing whatever they are doing, is for the customer. They lose sight of adding value to the customer, having a deep understanding of the customer’s needs and building that all important rapport which will have the disastrous consequences we talked about earlier. It’s not about making the top person of your company happy it’s about getting the ‘wow’ from your customer and this must be the primary concern. Straying from this focal point means that you are focusing too much on internal processes and goals and would only lead to dissatisfaction and a waste of all the resources you as a company used to create a product or service. Reach your customer service to ecstatic levels, create energized experiences and you will notice the positive reinforcement you receive from your customer by way of increased business and an energetic word of mouth spread of your services. You will be pleasantly surprised when you realize, that your inexorable march of enhanced customer service and FOCUS on customer perception, has brought you results that you did not ever deem possible while winding your way through your strategies and rigmarole processes.