One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned was the difference between actual and perceived quality.  The best paint job in the world is only as good as the customers’ perception.  Customer satisfaction is about expectation, delivery, and eventually post-purchase satisfaction.

For example, Painter 1 shows up on time, clean cut, removes shoes, chats with the customer, pets dog, puts out drops, carefully mixes paint, and three days later the place is painted.  However, the ceiling lines are uneven, there are a couple of drips in the middle of the wall, holidays on some brushwork, etc.  The customer loves the work so much she schedules other work.

Painter 2 shows up late with two days’ worth of facial growth, smoking a cigarette, walks in with barely an intro, and proceeds to tell the homeowner the dog needs to be put outside on in the garage.  He proceeds to finish the job in one day.  The paint lines are straight, solid job…done.  But the homeowner is not pleased.

The customer’s perception of the first painter was of a highly professional, courteous painter.  She liked him.  Even though his painting skills were not nearly those of the painter in the second scenario, she perceived him as the better painter.  When the painters are long gone, what will your customers say?  “Well, it may not be perfect, but what a great contractor to work with!”  Or, “Well, it may be perfect, but what a lousy contractor to work with.”  We must do our duty to communicate clearly so the customer knows what to expect, and then deliver what you promise.  After you’re long gone, they’ll still have a smile on their face.

-Gregg Shields, Kansas City, Mo