Lona Rudd
April 8, 2015 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing | Lona Rudd

The customer service perception bias

Most companies believe their company provides stellar customer experiences compared to others in their industry. However, if this is an inaccurate picture of their performance, it only hurts businesses and limits their ability to improve their relationships with customers.

Perception bias is at work every day
People often overestimate their driving ability, intelligence and athletic skills - this is just part of a common thing called perception bias. While it may not be too harmful to the everyday individual, it is detrimental when it is prevalent in a business setting.

In 2005, Bain & Company conducted a study that showed 80% of businesses thought they delivered a "superior experience" compared with others in their industry. Unfortunately, customers did not feel the same way - only 8% claimed companies were actually delivering on the customer service front.

A Forbes Insight report released in March 2015 showed that this trend has persisted over the years. The research discovered that 88% of company leaders think they're making good or excellent progress when it comes to providing modern customer service, and three-quarters said they perform better in this area than the competition.

Why is the discrepancy between perceived performance and real performance so high? The Forbes research indicates that there are multiple reasons why companies may be lagging behind when it comes to customer service, even when they see themselves as building good customer relationships. 

  • Not providing warm, responsive customer service at the pre-purchase stage:
    A mere 15% of companies polled said customer service was a critical part of their marketing message or brand image. This means many businesses fail to employ customer service before a consumer actually buys something - instead they're using it solely as a post-purchase problem solver, thereby keeping them from building better relationships from the very beginning.
  • Conflicting priorities: 
    Even though 90% of businesses said they wanted to learn more about customer needs, 82% sited that one of their top objectives was to reduce the time spent handling customer issues. These two goals are at odds with one another and could have a negative impact on relationship building overall.
  • Limited perceived importance: 
    While most businesses recognize the importance of customer service and relationships, few are expanding this beyond the customer service department. Only 38% of organizations said service was a strategic goal for their entire company.  This is a mistake.  A customer-centric culture should be pervasive company-wide.

Don't forget all service channels
The most popular customer service channels aren't going away anytime soon. Over half of the Forbes respondents said their use of phone support would increase or significantly increase over the next six months to year.  Half expected an increase in the use of online self-service and mobile apps.  Text messaging customer support and online forums are becoming commonplace form of communication. 

The bottom line?
No matter how or in what form customer interactions occur, exceptional customer service begins at the first point at which a consumer touches your business, in person or online, and should be continuous throughout every stage of the relationship. 



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