“The customer’s perception is your reality” ~Kate Zabriskie

In a recent post, we talked about perception versus reality, where we discussed customer service meeting customer expectations.

Because this is such an important topic and so valuable to your bottom line, I would like to take it a step further and discuss the Customer Experience and how it is perceived by your customers, as opposed to the reality they might experience.

We all have expectations before doing business with a company, product or brand. Is it a quality product?  Is it safe and secure?  Are the prices competitive? Will they stand behind their product or service if something goes wrong?

In today’s globalized economy, competition is getting tougher and tougher, which makes it more difficult for a product or service to differentiate itself from the rest of the field. Customers are better informed and have a wider selection to choose from.  They have less time, are always looking for the best deal, and have a shorter attention span.

So while your customers may be satisfied with doing business with you, will they be loyal? It is much better to have loyal customers than satisfied customers, as the loyal ones will keep coming back repeatedly. Satisfied customers will always have their eyes open for better deals.

Customer perception is influenced by many factors, including:

  • Marketing
  • Price
  • Trust
  • Value
  • Did the product fulfill the customers’ needs?
  • Responsiveness and service quality
  • Follow up and follow through
  • Reviews
  • Personal experiences

When establishing the customer journey, one of the most important steps is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and take the journey yourself:

  • Is your website easy to navigate? Does it answer all the basic questions a customer might have?
  • Are your offerings perceived as valuable or unique?
  • Are you resolving a problem or need?
  • Can you establish a positive emotional experience?
  • Is your communication fast and efficient?
  • Are you mobile?
  • Are you giving your customers a reason to come back?
  • Are your employees hired with the right attitude and trained so they understand the importance of the customer experience?

Once these questions are answered, you are halfway home to establishing a positive perception in the eyes of your customers.

The internet has transformed the way people experience a product, service or brand, which in turn drives their perception, and ultimately their decision to spend their hard earned cash.  Managing their perception by making sure their journey with you is a positive emotional experience, will go a long way in making sure their loyalty is to you and your business, no matter what the competition does.

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at Paul@PaulRutterSpeaks.com, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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