Perception is key in any exchange. Given the same situation or set of choices, one can make very different decisions based off of the perception they’re given. Often when we are working with our customers, we need to modify perception through our messaging and branding of both our product and our customer service.
Sheena Iyengar studies how people choose (and what makes us think we’re good at it). In her address during July 2010 TED Conference: Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing she had a small question and answer. During this Q & A, she discussed how people perceived nail polish colors and how that affected their decision:
Well, it’s funny that you should ask that, because one of the things that’s interesting about being blind is you actually get a different vantage point when you observe the way sighted people make choices. And as you just mentioned, there’s lots of choices out there that are very visual these days. Yeah, I — as you would expect — get pretty frustrated by choices like what nail polish to put on, because I have to rely on what other people suggest. And I can’t decide. And so one time I was in a beauty salon, and I was trying to decide between two very light shades of pink. And one was called “Ballet Slippers.” And the other one was “Adorable.” (Laughter) And so I asked these two ladies. And the one lady told me, “Well, you should definitely wear ‘Ballet Slippers.'” “Well, what does it look like?” “Well, it’s a very elegant shade of pink.” “Okay, great.” The other lady tells me to wear “Adorable.” “What does it look like?” “It’s a glamorous shade of pink.” And so I asked them, “Well, how do I tell them apart? What’s different about them?” And they said, “Well, one is elegant, the other one’s glamorous.” Okay, we got that. And the only thing they had consensus on: well, if I could see them, I would clearly be able to tell them apart.
“And what I wondered was whether they were being affected by the name or the contents of the color. So I decided to do a little experiment. So I brought these two bottles of nail polish into the laboratory, and I stripped the labels off. And I brought women into the laboratory, and I asked them, “Which one would you pick?” 50 percent of the women accused me of playing a trick, of putting the same color nail polish in both those bottles. (Laughter) (Applause) At which point you start to wonder who the trick’s really played on. Now of the women that could tell them apart, when the labels were off, they picked “Adorable,” and when the labels were on they picked “Ballet Slippers.” So as far as I can tell, a rose by any other name probably does look different and maybe even smells different.
“The choice that Sheena presented the ladies were two very similar shades of pink. half couldn’t tell the difference, and the other half who could, made a different decision based off of the perception or the name of the color. As she states, “a rose by any other name probably does look different and maybe even smells different.”
The same thing can be applied to our clients. The products or services that we provide, simply by branding it differently or presenting it differently, can increase the perceived value and therefore can increase the customer satisfaction.
Similarly, any escalated situation, presented & branded properly through messaging and perception, we can turn into a positive and relationship building interaction.
Rory Sutherland (the Ad man) Spoke in 2009 at Ted on how people have used perception to accomplish their goals.
Rory mentions that all value is subjective. With that in mind, what value are our customers really getting? Is it just the product? If so, I would recommend adding value to it. Not necessarily by adding a feature or improving the process. Why not improve the perception? Make your clients feel like they are getting way more than they are paying for. The same thing should be said of your service tactics. As you resolve issues for customers, use proper messaging and branding to give them the perception of increased value. This will improve their satisfaction and therefore their loyalty as a client.