Imagine you are sitting for dinner at a friend’s house. He’s served some cheese and crackers hors d’oeuvres, a bibb lettuce salad, a hearty entrée with some vegetables, and a nice fresh fruit dessert. There’s a brief pause before the offer of coffee and your host asks you, “Have you had enough to eat?”
I’ve been around long enough to know that the “appreciative guest” answer is something like, “Yes, thank you, it was lovely, wonderful flavors, beautifully served, just delightful.” Or words to that effect.
But I have a pretty busy mind. (You are shocked, I know.) What does that question, “Have you had enough to eat?” really ask? “Do you feel full?” “Did you enjoy the food?” Do you need to keep eating to reduce stress?” Possibly, even, “Are you about ready to go, Champ? I’m tired and I have to clean up the kitchen.”
It could be any of those or ALL of those. So, seriously, how to answer that question?
For example, I might think about opening my fitness app, looking at the food that I have consumed during the day – the calories, the mix and quantities of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, calcium, and iron – and then saying, “Gosh, George, I’m a little short on iron, do you have any spinach or lentils I could have to top myself off for the day?“
I would never say that and my host, George, might therefore interpret my appreciative guest answer as “Nick is full”. My answer wouldn’t tell him whether I was, in fact, satisfied nutritionally or at any other levels.
We get into the same pickle after delivering a product or service when we ask a client or customer a similar general question like, “Do you need anything else?” or “Have you received everything you needed?” or “Were you satisfied with what we delivered?”
It’s been my experience that most people, most of the time, will say, “Sure, it was great, fine, thank you very much.“ We don’t ask about (and they don’t volunteer) information at a more granular level that would tell us (and them) whether they were satisfied for some, many, or all of their needs or buying criteria. So, we never really know.
Nick Miller trains banks and bankers to help small businesses thrive by guiding them to good financial practices and leveraging the full range of their banks’ capabilities. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.
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