“It is good to see ourselves as others see us.  Try as we many, we are never able to know ourselves fully as we are, especially the evil side of us.  This we can do only if we are not angry with our critics but will take in good heart whatever they might have to say.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

If you’re human, you’ve probably wondered how other people really feel about you.  Do you think others see you the way you see yourself?  If a close friend or family member decides to be brutally honest with you and tell you what they think about you – and it’s not what you want to hear – do you get angry?  Do you get defensive?

The same idea comes into play when thinking about your business and how a customer, or potential customer, perceives your business.  I’ll bet you think your business provides great customer service and that your customers are loyal and they love you.  But in reality, this probably isn’t the case.  Consider the fact that 80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service.  But only 8% of people think these same companies deliver “superior” customer service (Source: “Customer Service Hell” By Brad Tuttle, Time).  There appears to be a little bit of perception mismatch going on.

How do you, or your customer support representatives, deal with an irate customer that openly and honestly explains what they think of your company and your products?  Does your customer support staff get defensive when they hear something that they don’t want to hear about the company that makes it possible for them to feed their family?  Do you even provide a convenient opportunity for your customers and prospects to communicate with you about how they feel about your company?

As Mahatma suggests, the only way for us to know ourselves fully – or more fully than we currently know ourselves – is to accept honest feedback from others and use this information to continuously improve.  To do this, we need to have an open line of communication with our customers and prospects.  Considering that 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live customer support person (Source: Harris Interactive) it appears that many of us aren’t even providing an effective mix of communication vehicles for our customers and prospects to use to access us.  Live help software can help here.

For those of you that don’t use live help software to facilitate online chats between your customers/prospects, and your customer service staff, you are making a mistake.  I know – you actively man your phone lines and you quickly respond to all emails that you get.  But I’m telling you this isn’t enough.  A Consumer Reports study found that 67% of customers hang up the phone out of frustration that they are unable to speak with a real person.

With live help software, customer service staff can handle 3-4 calls simultaneously so live chat agents are more productive and available than support staff that only take one phone call at a time.  And, with live help software, your website visitors now have a convenient option that they can use to tell you what they think and how they feel.  Don’t be afraid – hearing honest feedback, and even some constructive criticism, is a good thing.  With it, we can move closer to knowing our true selves – and better serve our customers.