We often hear the axiom that "perception is reality." When it comes to assessing the service/quality levels delivered by our teams/organizations just who’s perception of reality are we using? Reinforcing this month’s four-part series of blog posts on The Three Rings of Perceived Value, here are key perspectives on using our customer perceptions of their reality with your product or service.

Customer Satisfaction - The practical leader"No two people see the external world in exactly the same way. To every separate person a thing is what he thinks it is — in other words, not a thing, but a think."
– Penelope Fitzgerald, The Gate of Angels

"The starting point has to be what customers consider value. The starting point has to be the assumption — an assumption amply proven by all our experience — that the customer never buys what the supplier sells. What is value to the customer is always something quite different from what is value or quality to the supplier. This applies as much to a business as to a university or to a hospital….what the customer buys and considers value is never just a product. It is always a utility, that is, what a product or service does for him."

– Peter Drucker, The Essential Drucker (click here for my book review and more excerpts)

"Your opinion is your opinion, your perception is your perception — do not confuse them with ‘facts’ or ‘truth.’ Wars have been fought and millions have been killed because of the inability of men to understand the idea that EVERYBODY has a different viewpoint."
– John Moore, Quotations for Martial Artists

"(Study featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association)… found that impaired communication — rather than the actual number of mishaps — largely predicted that a given physician would be sued for malpractice. By contrast, doctors whose patients felt more rapport sued them less. These doctors did simple things that helped: they told patients what to expect from their visit or treatment, engaged in small talk, touched them reassuringly, sat down with them, and laughed with them — humor builds rapport quickly and powerfully. What’s more, they made sure patients understood their comments, asked for their opinions, cleared up all their questions, and encouraged them to talk. In short, they showed an interest in the person, not just in the diagnosis."
– Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

Sign in a company cafeteria — "Warning: Customers are perishable."

"…Bain & Co. survey reveals just how commonly companies misread the market. Surveying 362 firms, the company found that 80% believed they delivered a ‘superior experience’ to their customers. But when we asked customers about their own perceptions, we found that they rated only 8% of companies as truly delivering a superior experience. Clearly, it’s easy for leading companies to assume they’re keeping customers happy; it’s quite another thing to achieve that kind of customer devotion. So what sets the elite 8% apart? They take a distinctively broad view of the customer experience."
– James Allen, Frederick F. Reichheld, and Barney Hamilton, "Tuning Into the Voice of Your Customer"

"British food researchers who served up exactly the same chicken dish in 10 different places found that the better the ambiance, the better diners said the food tasted….a meal of chicken a la king, which was given low marks in a residential home for the aged and a boarding school, got top marks when it was served up at a four-star restaurant, although it had been made from the same ingredients, cooked in the same kitchen, stored in the same plastic bag and accompanied by the same Uncle Ben’s rice. ‘The results show that in many cases the environment is actually far more important than the food,’ said Professor John Edwards of Bournemouth University, who led the study."
– Michael Kesterton, "Ambiance matters," The Globe & Mail