Perceptions are Shaped by TouchPoints
If I were to ask you to describe a Ferrari, what would you say? Sleek? Fast? Sexy? Stylish? Powerful? Red? Those are the adjectives most of us would use to describe a Ferrari – we all have a perception, yet very few of us own one, have driven one, even sat in one. Still, we all have a perception of what it’s like.
Somehow through a series of interactions – TouchPoints – some may be hands on like driving a Ferrari; others may be indirect like seeing a Ferrari on the highway, seeing one on television, or simply talking about a Ferrari with our friends, we’ve all formed a perception of what our lives would be like if we owned a Ferrari.
Likewise, your buyers have perceptions of what it would be like if they did business with you. These perceptions come from a series of interactions – TouchPoints – some may be hands on and others may be indirect. Imagine your buyer going through their “customer journey”. They are going about their business and encountering several touchpoints with you and your business:
- You’re visiting them
- They’re going to your website and reading about your products and services
- They are calling you; you are calling them back
- Your service department makes a service call
- Your finance department sends an invoice
- They’re paying you
Lots of touchpoints are happening on a variety of levels. Some of these touchpoints carry more weight than others. A personal meeting, for example, generally matters more than a visit to a website.
Over time, these touchpoints start to add up to create your client’s perception of you and your company. How often and how well you perform varies from one client to another, both in reality and in their perception. And therein lies the first challenge. Client interactions and relationship-building are moving targets.
Perceptions are Relative
Unfortunately, you are not alone in influencing the perceptions of your buyers…there’s a big bad world out there. Your buyer is constantly comparing your actions to those of your direct competitors and of other strategic partners your buyer may work with. Your buyer may get a visit from one of those competitors, go to a trade show, phone a colleague, talk to others within their organization, or encounter any number of outside TouchPoints, all of which also influence their perceptions.
And while we can control our TouchPoints, we must deal with the outside world TouchPoints our buyer chooses to encounter.
Forces like peers, and the press, word-of-mouth, good and bad references, your competition; all these influence your client’s perception of you. Your buyers are constantly comparing what they believe their world will be like working with you to what it would be otherwise. So, in many respects, it’s not whether you are good or bad, its whether you are noticeably better…better than your competition, noticeably better than other strategic partners with whom they work, noticeably better than their expectations. Your “competition” is whoever your buyer wants to compare you to!