In a previous article, we explored the difference between Perception Points vs. Process Points in Service Delivery. Focusing on process improvement is a key strategy for business success. What started as an initiative in manufacturing is now seen in many service industries as well. And as technology is increasingly present in the delivery of service, these process improvements will continue.
But if we only focus on improving process, we miss the opportunity to improve the customer’s experience of our process. Perception Points are where customers experience our service processes, form their opinions about us.
Perception Points are often found between or around process points. For example: staff attitudes and styles of service, waiting times, user-friendliness of website, ease of finding information, room temperature and odors, tone of communications, recognition and even appreciation – these are just a few of the Perception Points (but not necessarily process points) in a customer’s experience.
Here’s why Perception Points are the right place to look for service improvement ideas:
1. Perception Points deeply impact the experience of your customer.
Perception Points provoke or provide the feeling of service. And in some cases, this may be more important to customers than speed or accuracy of your process. How often have you recommended a service provider because the experience felt great – even if something in the process broke down?
2. Perception Points can help you overcome weak process points.
Sometimes your process requires steps that your customers will never enjoy; for example, regulations and requirements that are out of your control. Or your new system to improve a process may take time and investment, and cannot be fixed immediately.
Studying and improving the Perception Points that surround these process steps becomes critical. For example, a friendly voice, a follow-up phone call, a humorous video, or an easy FAQ will ease, comfort, or reassure your customers through less-than-optimal process points.
One telecommunications company we work with planned to upgrade their technology platform. In the long run this would provide better speed and reliability for customers. But the transition would also cause changes and confusion. Call center staff were trained to acknowledge, empathize, and soothe short term frustration while educating customers on long-term benefits. This protected loyalty and market share by focusing on the experience, not just the technology.
3. Perception Points may be easier to improve – and less expensive.
I have helped organizations map Perception Points for hundreds of Service Transactions. In every case, teams are surprised by how quickly and easily Perception Points can be improved, uplifting the customer experience.
Routinely, 75% of improvement ideas generated by these teams can be done immediately, at zero or little cost, and without needing a committee, a task force, or senior management approval. Often small changes in communication, style of service, or easy-to-follow instructions will improve customer experience dramatically.
4. Perception Points will distinguish you from the competition.
As services become increasingly competitive, quality and cost are driven to parity in most industries. Strong process has become a basic requirement, and is no longer a competitive differentiator. Perception Points that uplift the experience of your customers are a better and stronger place to stand apart. Process is easy to copy – experience is much harder. And customers are willing to pay a premium price for a great customer experience.
Where can your Perception Points separate you from the competition? What Perception Points make the difference for your customers?