Perception Of Service
June 30, 2017
What your clients perceive of your service may not always be the same perception you have of what you deliver. Both perceptions are the truth to each party and as such, it’s critical when it comes to delighting your clients that communication and transparency is clear.
An example of this is where I caught up with a client for a coffee last week. As we chatted about his business we touched on a concern of his that while he admitted he often puts us under time pressure, when we are given projects with a “respectable” lead time these weren’t always actioned immediately. To him he had a perception that we weren’t prioritising him unless the work was urgent.
Behind office doors, our perception is a different one. While we’d always reply along the lines of “I saw your project request thanks Harry. Thanks to a lovely clear brief we have all we need and will have a draft for you to approve by xxx” to the less urgent tasks, he’d become accustomed to our turning work around in a matter of hours. Face to face we were able to align both truths and once he was aware that we schedule our weeks in advance as much as possible in order to meet all client expectations (while leaving time for ’emergencies’), Harry was a happy camper. This transparency also helped him respect the team and our obligations to other clients much better.
So while we want each client to feel that they are our only client, on the other hand we don’t want them feeling frustrated or less valued in their perception of our service.
How to keep in touch with your client perceptions though?
You may be happily working away with no idea what’s going on in your clients’ minds. Cripes, you’re dealing with the problems you do know about, who wants to uncover more! But they are definitely not problems. Your client's truth is an opportunity to improve in order to retain and delight him, and others. Click To Tweet
Here’s some strategies to help with this:
- Be clear about your expectations (and theirs)
- Customer satisfaction surveys (good, actionable ones!)
- Regular touch points (both face time and phone or video)
- Your ears! Listening is the most valuable tool you have at your disposal.
After a team meeting this morning where we discussed the above example, it was suggested we incorporate our expectations and commitment in our letter of engagement so we are as transparent as possible as early as our onboarding process. We also emphasised how important our communications are and having our WIP spreadsheets referred to with clients (throughout the month). Another way we help clients to see our truth is by giving them access to our project management system, so those who choose to can see status of their projects at all times.
We identified and resolved this particular example of customer perception. For a more sustainable and long term improvement try to use a complaints log strategically. Listening to complaints helps clarify what disconnects customers from your company. It can provide important information about the failures or gaps in your service system. Compile, analyse and feed the information back to team members who can help correct the problems, and use complaints as an inexpensive and continuous source of insight into consumer expectations.
By actioning some or all of the suggestions above, you’ll give your clients and even better experience than they already enjoy with your business!