Another “Gut” Check

Last week I wrote a post about listening to your customers and not trusting your "gut" instinct about what they think and want. Then, in a moment of synchronicity, Harvard Business Newsletter came out with an article by Max H. Bazerman and Deepak Malhotra. The Harvard professors found that people trust too much in their instincts, especially during business negotiations. I would submit that this not only happens in the board room, but also on the phones when CSRs base their behavior on what their "gut" tells them about the customer on the phone during customer service "negotiations".

Bazerman and Malhotra go on to discuss the difference between the "insider lens" and the "outsider lens" that we use when looking at particular issues:

"Obviously, for our most important negotiations, the outsider lens is
preferable. Unfortunately, however, the outsider lens is rarely the
default option when we are facing major negotiations or are embroiled
in conflict

As our group has assisted clients by giving an outsider lens perspective on their customer satisfaction and quality assessment based on objective data, I’ve witnessed several benefits to the client. Here are three:

  • Data driven decisions. Making tactical decisions that have large sums of money attached is more effectively done when you’ve invested in learning the thoughts and expectations of your customers through valid research.
  • Customer connected QA metrics. Too many companies base their QA metrics on management instinct and internal "bottom line" motivations. They end up driving customer satisfaction and loyalty down right along with their costs. Getting a true picture of what your customers want and expect allows companies to balance cost and customer sat considerations.
  • Customer based coaching. When QA coaches understand what drives customer satisfaction, their coaching takes on an entirely different perspective. Instead of arguing with CSRs who assume they "know" the customer and resorting to "do it this way because I told you so" tactics, the coach can speak knowledgably about what customers expect and how the behaviors measured in QA are trying to meet and exceed those expectations.

Gut-check. Are you making biased assumptions about your customers or getting an objective assessment from what the Harvard Business professors call an "outsider lens"?

Related Posts:
Do You Know What you Don’t Know?
Who are You Satisfying with Your QA Scale?
Where Do You Invest Your Research Dollars?

Flickr photo courtesy of Infatuated

  1 comment for “Another “Gut” Check

  1. August 31, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    Tom, its amazing how many assumptions we make based on our own beliefs. I often ask folks to tell me what they see in a set of pictures, which could be showing unruly behaviors. Almost 90% of the time, folks jump to a negative interpretation. Then I go back and ask them to revisit their initial assumptions. They begin to see that they cannot generally depend on what they first assumed. So I, too, concur that we cannot always trust our gut and we desperately need to listen to customers and others around us! Thanks for some great insights.

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