Mind The Gap

Things don’t always seem the same to your customers as they seem to you.

You might think, for instance, you just did something to serve the customer… and they might have an entirely different perception.

Case in point…

I recently enrolled a large number of students in an online training webinar series.

So far, so good.

At least I thought so…

Thinking I would best serve those students by getting the series underway as soon as possible, I scheduled the webinars immediately after enrollments were complete.

I felt good about this decision, because I would be delivering the material the students had paid for in a very timely fashion.

They wouldn’t have to wait.

I was somewhat surprised to receive an e-mail from a student who was upset with me… for not waiting longer to schedule the online classes!

This student criticized me as being “just like those other Internet marketers” who think only of themselves, and not of their students. What?! I thought I was thinking of my students!

I quickly got over my feelings of having been spat upon, and realized this was an opportunity for me to learn something. My perception of what’s happening can be completely opposite of my customer’s perception.

One of my primary responsibilities as a business owner is to be as aware of these differences as possible, and always working to close the gap between the two.

As my friends in the UK are well aware, it’s very important to “mind the gap”.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • williammcpeck

    Until you offer us mind reading training Ray, I fear some size gap will always be present.
    It seems to me you can make the gap smaller by making available as much information as you have available in your initial solicitation or announcement.  Speaking personally, I would be unlikely to register for a training series not knowing when they will be held so I will know whether I will be available or not.
    Although it may be a viable list building strategy, I find it very annoying to receive a notice of a training that interests me but not being able to learn the date and/or time without first registering for the program.  The promoter may have captured my name and email, but if I find I can’t attend, my time and energy has been wasted and the customer relationship has started off in a less than positive note.  This does not seem to me to be the best way to begin a relatiionship with a new custonmer.
    William McPeck
    Augusta, Maine

    •  @williammcpeck  William, you make very good points about supplying enough information for people to be able to make a comfortable decision.
      No plans yet for a mind reading course!

  • dontaylor

    Ray, I had to chuckle when I saw the title of this post. It is SO British.
    But the real reason for the chuckle was remembering a cruise Carol and I took on a Holland America ship a couple of years ago. I just had to snap a photo of the sign above the entryway, which read “Mind Your Head”.
    In a way, that’s kind of profound, don’t you think? 🙂
    (Then I had to laugh again, because the sign reminded me of the last line of the Jeff Airplane song, “White Rabbit”…)

    •  @dontaylor  Don, I love that! That actually sounds like good fodder for a blog post all of its own. And you’re right-it is profound. Thanks.

  • I love it Ray.  Definitely easy to take our own perceptions and past experiences into things and assume they translate to others as well… thinking about it… I do it too darn much lol.
    Question for ya though… I’d love to hear the followup that happened w/ that customer. Did they ever say why they wanted it to start later and how that was “not thinking about the customer”?.  Just curious… In the end, I’m sure the vast majority of customers LOVED the heck outta you for starting quickly… that one customer likely would have been unhappy with something else if you bumped the start date back. – Trevor

  • KatherineH

    I have a similar perception to that of your student, above.  Not in the WAY she said things (“you thought only of yourself, just like other Internet marketers”)… In her possible REASON why it didn’t work for her when you scheduled your training series to happen immediately.
    My reaction is disappointment when I miss a webinar that would have been valuable to me.  But in my case, I’d say it was MY fault, not yours.  
    I’ve signed up for so many interesting e-newsletters that I only have to neglect my inbox for 2 or 3 days before it can have 500+ e-mails in it.  I often don’t SEE an e-mail from someone until I clear some of them out, and that can take a week or more, sometimes.  
    I find when a webinar host gives 2 days’ notice or less before a webinar takes place, I usually can’t take advantage of the offer, however good it is.
    I wonder how many others do the same thing I do?

  • I just want to say that you taking the criticism and putting a positive spin on it by turning it into a learning lesson is a fantastic first step. We will never be able to delve into our customer’s minds 100%. So, their feedback is extremely important — whether negative or positive. In business, do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?