The other day in our medical office when a patient came to the front counter to check out, the medical assistant asked how their visit went and the response of the patient was “well, I guess it was okay…all the doctor did was look at my foot and tell me that he thought it was doing fine.”

As I sat in my office I thought wow…is this all the patient really thought of his visit?  Didn’t he realize that the doctor was evaluating whether or not the infection he had was still there and needed more attention?  Or that the doctor was very concerned and wanted to make sure the wound he had was healing properly?  Apparently this patient’s perceived value was much different from what I thought it should have been.

When you are in the customer service business whether it is a medical office, supermarket, retail store or restaurant perceived value is something very critical to the success of your business, yet it is the one thing that is very hard to predict because it is based on each individual’s opinion that comes to your place of business.

One definition of perceived value is; A customer’s opinion of a product or service to him or her. It may have little or nothing to do with the actual product or service, and depends on the product or service to satisfy his or her needs, desires or requirements.

Since perceived value is based on each person’s individual need and desired outcome, how are we to meet and exceed each person’s expectations of our service or product?  Of course, we will not be able to do this 100% of the time, but 100% should be the goal.  The best way to find out what your customer’s needs, desires and expectations are is to ask them.

Do a brief survey of what your customers are looking for in the way of your service or products.  By making the survey brief two or three questions your customers will be more willing to answer it.  In our office we asked patients what was the most important thing they were looking for when they came to a doctor’s office and what was the one thing that they did not like at the offices that they had been to in the past.  The information we received back was tremendously valuable, as we learned what most of our patients wanted and what they did not like.  We then took this information and began using what we could to better meet the needs of our patients and made sure we changed, altered or avoided those things that we could that we found that they did not like.

Asking your customers for their insight and opinions is the truly is best way to understand what their perceived value of your product or service is and then you can have valid information to begin making the necessary changes in better meeting their needs and the needs of your future customers.

Related Article on Customer Surveys