Those words jumped out from the screen as if they were written in neon.
CUSTOMERS CAN NOT MEASURE QUALITY
The man who wrote those words is is Mike Wagner in his post Customer Service: Lessons from the heart
Customers don’t understand quality. Most customers have no way to measure the quality of the goods/services you provide – all they know is the experience that surrounds the sale.
To this day I can’t judge the quality of my heart operation. It would take a trained heart surgeon to look at the repair to deem it a “quality” job. I know how I was treated, I know the conditions I experienced in the hospital, and like most people I allow my experience to form my opinion about quality.
Insisting your goods/services are the best doesn’t mean anything without a great experience – without great customer service.
The reason those words literally JUMPED off the page to me is it’s a realization I’ve been wrestling with recently.
In my work with individual clients…. I spend what they may think of as an inordinate amount of time working on their communication skills. "Hey, this is supposed to be about marketing, not public speaking!" Ah, but there’s the rub. The great communicator will beat out the skilled craftsman most of the time.
Quality is an illusion… perception is EVERYTHING! Heck, perception is the ONLY thing!!!
Whether you’re a web developer, an attorney, a heart surgeon or a dentist…. your patients/clients/customers don’t have any way to guage the "quality" of your work outside of the experience of doing business with you.
Long ago and far away, as an adult I had to have my tonsils removed. The surgeon was a likeable fellow who was "a bit too fond of the drink", a fact I wasn’t aware of at the time. About four days after the procedure, I returned to work only to find myself hemmoraging from my throat. My affable surgeon wasn’t on call, but his associate was. Looking back, I can see why he was so gruff with me at the time. Here he was, a very competent surgeon called into "clean up" the shoddy work of his associate who was too drunk to cover his call. However, as he literally saved my life, I was thinking, "What a JERK!" His behavior towards me, the nursing staff and the ER doctor were simply unexcusable.
As I said, it was only when the second surgeon left the area to set up practice in another state that I got the FULL details of the real situation from a friend in the know. The second doctor, the one with the HORRID bed side manner, was actually a highly skilled surgeon who was extremely frustrated by constantly bailing out his bumbling yet affable partner.
I couldn’t measure the quality of my surgery… and chances are your customers can’t judget the quality of your goods and services either. The only thing they CAN judge is their experience. If it’s pleasant… then their perception of quality will be high. If it’s negative, then their perception of quality will be low.