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Quality is an interesting word in business. We toss it around when discussing products, describing them as ‘high quality’ or lacking it altogether. But what is the meaning of quality? | Source: Adobe Stock
Quality is an interesting word in business. We toss it around when discussing products, describing them as ‘high quality’ or lacking it altogether. But what is the meaning of quality? | Source: Adobe Stock

What does quality mean to your customers?

Most businesses believe they offer customers a quality experience. JEANNIE WALTERS encourages you to question how true that is.

Quality is an interesting word in business. We toss it around when discussing products, describing them as ‘high quality’ or lacking it altogether. But what is the meaning of quality?

Where does quality fit in the context of customer experience? Well, I’m betting your definition of what quality means to your customers might differ from their version.

For example, when you ask people what they want from a bank, they often say things like ‘security’, but they really want convenience. Today’s assumption is that if you are a reputable bank, you offer good security. So, is that quality?

Maybe, but when customers discuss a ‘great’ experience, they often mention things like convenience, communication and feeling ‘cared about’ by their banks. So, what’s the definition of a ‘quality’ customer experience for these banking customers?

Like it or not, much of what was considered high-quality in terms of customer experience in the past is what’s considered the status quo today.

That means that while you may think a customer’s perception of your business is based on the quality of your products, privately, they may have other ideas.

The trap we tend to fall into repeatedly is considering what we assume is important to us within a business is what’s important to the customers we think we serve. Defining an experience around a product being of ‘high quality’ is an excellent example of that kind of mindset.

When you start identifying this type of thinking in your own business, I challenge you to ask a few questions.

Who cares about your product?

If you answer this question with something like “young couples preparing for marriage”, you’re way off the mark. They don’t care about your product; they care about what they can do with it.

"Make sure you and your customers are aligned on the meaning of quality before you claim you’re the best on offer."

Instead, listen to your customers' stories and consider where your product might make their narrative more interesting. My favourite example is ‘your product/service helped us to do X’. The explanation usually involves some feeling.

As an example, a technical repair shop might be told by a customer, “Your technician helped save my daughter's wedding. All the planning information was on the computer he repaired.”

Think about that! These didn’t go into specifics about the product or service. They describe how the product or service delivered actual, emotionally charged human outcomes.

You can safely assume these same customers believe they are high-quality products and services, but I’d bet they also think that about some of your competitors.

What makes your business better than a competitor?

This is where many businesses love to drink the Kool-Aid. ‘We were the first’ is not a good answer to this question.

Another answer I’ve heard is as follows: “While the others are less expensive, we feel ours is much higher quality.”

This answer might sound better, but what does it mean? If the product is excellent but getting help is painful, is it a quality experience for the customer? This is where you hear the opposite from customers regarding the experience.

  • “We love the products, but customer service is terrible.”
  • “We used to be loyal customers, but the last time we tried to get help was a disaster.”

Don’t become complacent because you believe you have the ‘best’ product on the market. It’s only the best if your customers believe it, along with the entire experience, really is.

How do you keep up?

Like it or not, your competitors are setting expectations for your customers.

Make sure you and your customers are aligned on the meaning of quality before you claim you’re the best on offer.

Overall, it’s also important to note that gathering customer feedback on this means going beyond questions that only concern your products.

Someone can answer that they believe your product is ‘high quality’ as a rating but still be frustrated with the experience.

Keep that in mind when asking your customers what they think of your business.

Getting richer and more in-depth responses requires extra effort, whether via customer interviews, focus groups, or other similar programs.

Are you wondering where you should start? Address where you are today and build the ideal journey for tomorrow. Don’t wait because tomorrow is here.

More reading:
How do you treat your customers after they leave?
Quality customer service always beats out pricing
Three golden rules for investing in relationships with customers
Looking for – and finding – a business’ ‘lost customers’
Great customer experience: steps to woo your audience

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeannie Walters

Contributor • Experience Investigators


Jeannie Walters is founder and CEO of Experience Investigators. Learn more: experienceinvestigators.com

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