We Are All In The Perception Business!

Recently, I’ve been suggesting that “perceptions” are a key economic driver.

In the course of my work as an experience designer and consultant, I have been defining customer experience strategy as a disciplined approach to brand differentiation achieved by elevating the perception of those you serve based on their interactions with you. Obviously, in today’s world, interactions are both physical and virtual and they involve our products, our people, and our technology.

I’m convinced that perception drives behavior for our people and the people they serve. For employees, perception drives emotional engagement, discretionary effort, and retentionSummary metrics like the eNPS (the employee version of the net promoter score) ask staff how likely they are to recommend their employer to a friend or acquaintance? Similarly, the customer NPS asks how likely customers are to recommend your business to their friends or acquaintances? These two NPS metrics are highly correlated – meaning when staff members “perceive” their company as worthy of being referred customers share that perception.

So, why is it that some companies don’t focus on “perception” management in the pursuit of business success? I suspect “perception management” sounds like a rather superficial pursuit for leaders that are focused on key performance indicators (KPIs) or other financial metrics. However, in truth “perceptions’ offer insights on “how” to make changes that drive important financial outcomes.

Let’s assume you open a brick and mortar retail business. The KPIs you would want to drive might include customer traffic (getting people to come in), conversion rates (so those who come in also leave with your products) and average ticket sales (proof you are selling a lot of your product or at least a substantial amount of your higher priced items).

In order to achieve these KPIs, you’d have to produce the desired perceptions for prospective customers during the consideration and purchase phase. To retain them you would similarly have to achieve certain perceptions after the sale and at all relevant future points along the customer’s journey and their lifecycle with your brand.

Influencing perceptions starts with caring about perceptions (the perceptions of your people and your customers). It also involves a disciplined approach to seeking feedback and utilizes what you learn to further improve the experience – perceptions if you will – for those you serve.

In the end, we are all in the perception business.

It is perceptions that drive employee retention, customer engagement, loyalty, and even brand advocacy!

What perceptions are you trying to affect in pursuit of your key performance indicators?

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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