Perception is reality.


“There are no facts, only interpretations.” Nietzsche

If we think that we’re doing the right things for our customers, but we’re not in touch with our customer’s perceptions of our service, then we’re vulnerable to customer drift. We may have forgotten this critical service principal- “Perception is reality.” Our customers are making decisions based on their reality, not based on our good intentions.

For example, you may think that your “Customer Appreciation Days” send all the right messages. How could they be seen in a negative light? For starters, if your special days still include your poor parking, rude staff and misleading promotions, you may be seen as having little interest in your customers. They perceive that your “customer appreciation” is just a sales gimmick and that it has no basis in the important elements of customer service.

How do you determine your customer’s perception of service? If you really want to know what they think, give them opportunities to express themselves without revealing themselves. Then you can harmonize your intentions with their perceptions.

Can You Trust Him?


Whether it’s your plumber, doctor, pastor, employee or anyone else you’re considering putting your faith in, only fully trust him, or her, if you can give a thumbs up to each of these 3 key questions:

1. Is he a person of character? If you have doubts about his integrity, motives or ethics, end the relationship as quickly as possible- a major deal breaker.

2. Does he have the necessary abilities? Your plumber may be a person of integrity who you really like, but if he doesn’t have the skills to install that unique heat pump that you want. It’s risky to trust him to do the job.

3. Does he have a track record of success? Finally, he may be a person of integrity and may have the knowledge and ability to do the job, but if in checking him out you learn that his past record of performance is poor; look for someone else. Today, with so much internet feedback available, you can check the 5 Star rating of almost anyone.

The bottom line? Two out of three isn’t good enough to fully trust him. Keep your eye on him and keep looking.

2 Reasons to Bail


Reason #1- A lifeless vision- Whether you’re a stakeholder, board member, CEO, frontline staff, contributor or a customer, if you don’t believe in the raison d’etre, the vision of the organization, you will never have a passion for your connection with them. Change the vision, or bail and move on, change organizations. Find something that has a vision that grabs your heart.

The vision for the non-profit Feeding America is ” A hungry free America.” That’s an appealing picture that could stir your heart and may be enough of an energizer to move you to write them a check or check their job openings.

Reason #2- Weak leadership- Even if you love the vision, if you don’t have confidence in the leadership, you will never have a passion for your position with them. Even a magnificent vision, if it’s in the hands of weak leadership will shrivel up and become unrecognizable. So, the principle is the same. Change the leadership, or bail and move on, change organizations.

Pre-bail advice- Leave as well as possible. Long after they’ve forgotten what a great job you did, they’ll remember how you left.

#1 Reason for Disappointment


Unclear expectations often lead to disappointment.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a disappointment with a gift , a relational response or a worker’s performance, if you didn’t make your expectations clear, then you have no right to hold anyone else, but yourself, to blame for your disappointment in the results.

You didn’t make yourself clear and now you’re disappointed. Sure, you could easily argue that he or she should have known what you expected, but this only increases your frustration and negativity toward the person. Why not shake-off the blues about this one and determine that the next time the outcome is important to you with this person, you’ll assure that you make your desires clear.

As you set your expectations, remember that the more specific you are- the who, what, where, why and when, the less likely you are to suffer a “disappointment-headache.” Have the Excedrin ready if your instructions sound like this: ” Joe, I’d like your expense report ASAP.” or enjoy your weekend if you say this, ” Joe, I’m closing the books for the month next Monday. By 1 pm this Friday, I want your expense report completed and on my desk.”

For the sake of the empowerment of others, particularly those who report to you, I recommend focusing your expectations on measureable results and not actions or activities. In addition, if you can get their buy-in and understanding of the expectations on the front end, this will help assure that your days of disappointment are over.

Wow! Where’d that come from?


“Relax, I’m not criticizing you personally.You’re overreacting, but you could have done a better job, if you had done it my way.”

Until you understand that others react to their perception of what you say or do and not to your intention, you may continue to see others “overreacting” to you and you may experience relational challenges with people who “…just don’t get you.”

Here’s how you could be misperceived:

If you’re goal driven, you can be seen as cold and uncaring.

If perfection drives you, you could be perceived as inflexible and stubborn.

Bubbly and outgoing? Others may see you as self-centered and rude.

Gentle and caring folks can be viewed as spineless and undependable.

So BE YOU, but BE CAREFUL, or you may find others “Overreacting” to your natural behavior.The perceptions of others is their reality.

Be a people-magnet!


In sales and service situations, people will be drawn to you if you’re wearing a friendly name tag. Before someone is even close enough to read your name, if you’ve done the tag right, they’ll be drawn to you by the message your name tag is sending. They’ll sense that you’re saying, “I’m approachable.”

Here are some tips for doing a friendly name tag:

  • Remember it’s a NAME tag, not a billboard for your bio. Unless your situation compels it, don’t clutter up the tag with credentials, slogans, contact information, logos or pictures . Usually, the inquiring customer doesn’t care if you’re the CEO or the janitor.
  • Send a warm message. Use the friendliest form of your name. Regardless of which form of your name you usually go by, on your name tag, use an informal version. So, for example, I use “Dick” rather than the more formal “Richard” or “Mr. Marks.”
  • For mounted tags, pin or clip it on the right side of your chest, so that if we shake hands, I’m looking at your name tag.
  • If it’s a neck-hanging type that can easily flip over, put the name on both sides, please, and don’t let the tag hang at your bellybutton.
  • The tag should be neatly, if not professionally, printed. An informal easily read font is best. I like Tempus Sans.
  • Put the name in LARGE letters. Use wide, bold print. Don’t require people to squint while looking at your chest high name tag.

If you’re the customer, when possible, avoid the staff person without a name tag. He may be a poor performer who doesn’t want to be held accountable for the information or service he provides, If you have no choice, first ask for his name. You’ve just raised the accountability bar.

Don’t waste $ on training!


Think it? Say it!

I’m working on this – whenever I think a positive thought about someone, whether it’s my wife, client, acquaintance or sometimes even a stranger, I tell them. The only guidelines I have are to be sincere, tell them ASAP and, whenever possible, say it face to face. So, I’m now saying things like- “I love that color on you.”-” I appreciate your upbeat attitude.” – I’m grateful for your friendship.”- “That’s a sharp looking car.” – “You’re the right person for this job.” As a consultant, sometimes I have to share a negative thought and I know that the research says that the best relational results require at least a 3 to 1, positive to negative ratio. So, I’m working on it- “I’m grateful for your time reading this post.” Here are two guys that get it.

I’m not contagious!


Everyone calls me “Dick” except telemarketers and waiting room greeters. Even at businesses where I’ve been going for years, I’m sometimes called with an inquiring “Richard?”, and it’s a page that’s yelled across the entire room- “Richard?” It’s as if I’m either a totally unknown person, or someone to be kept at a distance as contaminated and unapproachable. Not a greeting that’s in the “Best Practices” of customer service.

Why not come and greet me as a friend using my preferred name, ” Hi Dick. I’m Jean. Nice to see you. Dr. Proctor is ready for you now.” That’s a great customer service greeting that sends many positive relational messages. Don’t know my preferred name?- Change your registration process to include it. Here’s a clip with some other greeting tips.

Get over it! It’s not about you.


According to Dr. John Schinnerer, Psychologist, Univ. of Ca.,“Most of us think that 99% of what other people do or say has to do with us personally. The reality is that only about 1% has anything to do with us.” So, get over the word or deed that has you upset. It’s not about you.