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Why Operating on Your Personal Assumptions Can Be Dangerous


Why Operating on Your Personal Assumptions Can Be Dangerous

Not long ago, I had a somewhat tenuous conversation with one of our suppliers. I mentioned to him that it took too long for him to call me back. This time it took three days. His response was, “I called you back the same week. That isn’t good enough?”

No! It’s not! That’s not what good service, at least for me, is about. But, that’s not what this lesson is really about. It is actually about this guy’s assumption that three days would be an acceptable response time. The key word here is assumption.

This reminded me of a roofer I wanted to hire to fix my leaky roof. He had come recommended by a friend. I called him and he said he would come out in a few days to have a look. As long as we didn’t have a major downpour, that would be fine. I didn’t hear from him for over a week, so I decided to call and see when he planned to come check out my roof. His exact words were, “Don’t worry, I’ll get around to it.”

A week later, I called him again. He gave me the same answer, “I’ll get around to it.” By that time, I realized his definition of “getting around to it,” was different than mine. So, I called another roofer. He told me exactly when he would be able to come out, which was in two days.

Several days later, the original roofer called me back to let me know he would be over the next day. I gave him the news: I’d hired someone else.

He said “Okay” and hung up the phone. He didn’t ask why. He didn’t even seem to care. All I know is that he never “got around to it.” His assumption that I’d be okay with waiting a couple of weeks with a leaky roof, worrying if it would rain and start leaking again, didn’t meet my expectation.

Related: Are You so Good Your Clients Would Pay You Double?

In both of these examples, the personal assumption that each of these people had was not in sync with mine. In both of these cases, it was about time. Specifically, how much time I was willing to wait before complaining or, ultimately, choosing to do business with someone else.

Consider this: Just because I don’t like mushrooms, doesn’t mean my friends won’t. Just because I don’t drink coffee, doesn’t mean others might not want a cup of coffee during a morning meeting. And, just because I don’t care about you calling me back the same day, doesn’t mean my customer won’t.

Operating based on personal assumptions – or my personal likes and dislikes – can be dangerous. What makes me happy or upset may not be in sync with how my customers feel. And when my assumptions don’t align with my customers’, it’s a potential customer experience disaster.

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