Whenever I hear the word perception, I always think back to a discussion I had with an experienced business owner from my town.
He wanted to give his eighteen-year old son a life lesson about perception and told him the following story.
A young guy is crazy about motorcycles so he buys himself a speed bike and is always riding it around town. Since the people in the town sometimes hear him revving the motorcycle’s engine, he gains a reputation for being a bit of a speed demon.
On a quiet Sunday morning, a four-year old child is playing in his front yard next to a busy road. The young motorcycle god rides into the area – well under the legal speed limit. Just as he comes to the house where the child is playing, the child wanders into the road after his ball. The motorcyclist slams on the brakes and tries to avoid hitting the child, but sadly the child ends up under the wheels of the motorcycle and is killed.
No one saw the accident and the entire community accused the motorcyclist of reckless driving even though there was little or no evidence against him. This is how perception works. In fact it’s not always about the reality of the situation.
The way something is perceived is often more important than the actual facts. People will sometimes even embellish reality with made-up details interpreted from their own perception.
It is extremely useful to put yourself in the role of the customer on a regular basis and look through the customer’s eyes. This is particularly true when it comes to quality.
How does this appear?
What does the customer think about us?
The scholarly term for this is empathy. It’s the ability to put yourself in the place, thoughts and feelings of another person. And you should definitely not take empathy for granted. After all, many decisions are made based on a hunch and/or an emotional reaction. It isn’t for nothing that we so often speak of a “gut” decision.