It’s All about Perspective

Two very inebriated guys were walking along the railroad stepping one cross tie to the next between the iron rails.  “Long stairs, ain’t it!” said one guy.  The other replied, slurring his words, “It’s not the stairs I mind, it’s the low hand rails!”

Great jokes are like customers, grounded in insights.  Insight—the twist that makes jokes funny—is determined by perspective.  When my wife accused me of having no discipline when I emerged from the gas station store with a candy bar, I told her it was a matter of perspective…I had just left behind five candy bars I wanted to buy!

Great customer service comes from working very hard to look at service from the customer’s perspective.   If customers complain of access taking too long, that’s the perspective that matters, even if you think access is just fine!  If customers’ non-verbal feedback registers dissatisfaction or disappointment when you think everything is hunky dory—the customer’s perspective trumps yours.  Getting defensive about customers’ input risks missing the insights that can lead to improvement.

It is not that customers are always right—we all are customers, and sometimes we are dead wrong.  But, insight comes from understanding the perspective of the customer, regardless of rightness or truth!  As Tom Peters says, “Customers perceive service in their own unique, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is.”  What can you do to better view customers’ world from their perspective?



About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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