One Tactic to Raising Performance: Sell to Men

August 10th, 2009   •   no comments   
“Customers'” Expectations Were Low: Too Many Women?

We just completed a Customer Perception Study for a client that is a unit of a University. (Yes, I have permission to share, in general, what we found in this context. And, yes, some parts of a University are concerned about it/they are perceived.)

We conducted informal interviews of the “customers” of this unit who are, incidentally, non-profits themselves. Eighty percent of those we talked with were women whose responses to this qualitative assessment, interestingly, were moderate in their perceptions: a calm pool of satisfied reflection.

Then, we have the men: the stormy sea? This was a smaller group consisting of 20% of interviewees — only a couple of slices out of the pie. Their opinions, though, were markedly different from those of their female counterparts: wondering why the unit wasn’t doing more. I thought there was something interesting here: a nugget.

If you refer to the diagram at right (S=P/E), there is a causal relationship between satisfaction (the “end” state) and the two variables that will affect that: Performance and Expectation. Not rocket science here, but, the formula, simple as it is, suggests that Satisfaction, the end state, can be altered by altering either Performance or Expectation. (Driving down expectations — or sending them off a cliff as some people seem to be doing these days — is one way to produce satisfaction and is a fine strategy….as long as everyone else is doing the same.)

So, think about this: if you’re interested in an easy way to increase the capabiliities in your organizations, consider finding and selling to the squeaky wheels; those customers who are, continually, looking for a process improvement in your service delivery model (how you get them product or the service you sell). You know, the ones that won’t let your organization off the hook with mediocre or stagnant performance.

They could be, in this case, male customers. Or, they could be the big buys instead of the smaller companies — or vice versa. Some people call them “gems.” Others, call them PITA. Yes, of course, those “demanders” might just create chaos and consternation within your group but…that could be the stuff of renewal, of innnovation, of enterprising ideas that put you a cut above your competition. And, do so in a way that your competitors won’t notice for some time.

For a sanitized version of the executive summary of that Report, email me at

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