One afternoon, a woman noticed two small boys on the front step of a house. They were in their school uniforms carrying their backpacks and, she assumed, were going home after school. They were on their tiptoes trying to reach the doorbell with a stick.
"Poor little lads, they can't get in," she thought. So she marched up the path, reached over the boys and gave the bell a long, firm push.
The surprised boys turned around and screamed, "Quick, run!" and promptly disappeared over the garden wall.
We've all had incidents where we misread the situation or falsely assumed that what we saw represented all the facts. Then we realize we were wrong or at least made a premature judgment.
While it's not necessarily difficult to rethink your original assessment, when it comes to your business, it can be very costly. You never want your customers to have to assume or guess that they know about all your products or services. You must be specific, informative and user-friendly. To make sure your messaging is working in your favor, consider these following questions:
-- Do your customers have any idea what your business offers? So often, business names don't provide clues about the nature of a product or service. If that's your situation, you must find ways to present your business so that customers can find you. An organization with a name like "Jones and Associates" could be a law firm, a real estate company, house painters, or a dozen other businesses. You can't assume that your name is synonymous with your service. Make sure your Internet presence reflects the range of your services.
-- Do your customers know what your products and services can do for them? Spell it out. Even a product as basic as an envelope does more than move mail. At MackayMitchell Envelope Co., we offer more than 100 varieties of envelopes -- for direct mail (four-color process), photos, invitations, tickets, return mail, embossing, self-seal and so on. If you have a specialized product that would benefit your customers, don't assume that they know that such an item even exists.
-- Do your customers know how your products actually work? Think "user-friendly" every minute. Make sure your instruction manuals and training courses actually anticipate customer needs. Don't assume that every customer is tech-savvy or aware of options that would better serve his needs.
While you are rethinking ways to keep your customers from making false assumptions about your business, you can also reprogram your thinking so you can avoid making false assumptions. Here are some ideas to consider:
-- Your first assumption may be false. Make sure you have the facts before you make a judgment.
-- Give other people's ideas a chance. Another perspective can be extremely useful in making an accurate assessment.
-- Learn to separate facts from opinions. Facts are provable, objective and clear. Logic prevails rather than personal bias.
Think about how assumptions you make could change with circumstances. For example, can you assume that costs will remain the same? That would affect your bottom line, and potentially your success.
Are all the assumptions in your business plan reasonable? Are you open to trying new things to improve your performance?
Don't assume that today's customer will be tomorrow's customer. Plan for changes and be willing to change plans. As needs change and businesses come and go, you must be prepared to alter your thinking and marketing to adapt to the times.
Resetting your mindset is never simple. We all come equipped with viewpoints and perceptions that color our thinking. But we can retrain our brains to see a bigger picture, which, in the long run, will prevent jumping to the wrong conclusion. Here's a great illustration of the result of a false assumption.
Two service technicians working for the gas company conducted an ongoing rivalry to break up the monotony of their jobs. One day, as they went around to the back of a house to read the meter, the woman who owned the house idly watched them from her kitchen window.
When they finished their business, the two technicians decided to race back to the truck -- and so burst into a run. As they reached their vehicle, they were surprised to see the woman of the house close on their heels.
"What's wrong?" one asked.
She panted, "When two gas company men run from my house, I figure it's time for me to run, too."
Mackay's Moral: Don't presume what you assume is correct.