How Do Customers Perceive Your Business?

How Do Customers Perceive Your Business?

You’ve heard it before. Perception is everything. Especially when it comes to differentiating your business in any highly competitive field. When given a choice, what customer wouldn’t want to seek services from a business that is perceived to be the best in their city, state … or even in the country?

Being perceived as “the best” in a customers mind is critical to the success of any business. And while, of course, the real key to a successful business is the skill of its owner and people who work for you, there are a number of steps that you can be taking to have both current, and prospective, clients perceive your company as the one that truly goes above and beyond the norm.

So how do you make sure that your office is sending out the right messages to your clients and customers, and creating the image that people today are seeking? Perhaps the best way to see how your office is currently perceived by others is to try to see the office as they do for yourself … for the very first time.

Perception of a company starts the minute your phone rings and someone answers it (by the third ring at the very most.) The pleasant, non-rushed voice on the other end of the phone welcoming the caller is critical and it sets the tone for the initial impression. Too often a client calls and hears ” Please hold”- They may have said “such and such company, please hold.” They could have said “such and such company, would you mind holding?” Unfortunately, none of those are acceptable — unless there is a someone bleeding on the floor in front of you and you have to get a tourniquet. Whoever is your “Director of First Impressions” (another name for the person who answers your phone) should periodically invite friends over to your office to hear what their honest first impressions are of the company. Have them call your office and listen to how the phones are answered. What happens when they are put on hold? Do they listen to hard rock? Or the better choice of a “message on hold” (, where your customers and prospective customers have the opportunity to hear information about your business and the services you offer (a plus for both them as well as you!).

Next, drive or walk up to your office. Look around. Is the signage visible and pleasing to the eye? Walk up to the door, and ask yourself the same question. When you walk in, try to pinpoint your first thoughts about how a visitor (and potential business partner or client) would perceive the office. Does anyone look up from the front desk with a smile and a warm greeting?

The big question remains:  as a potential client or business associate,  would you perceive your office as a welcoming environment?  If not, it’s amazing what a few simple changes in structure and procedures can do —  and how it can enhance the way people view your office and, in turn, your whole company.

Imagine this scenario…

You walk in and there is beautiful music playing. The air is clean and fresh, and… you notice beautiful fresh flowers on the counter. A woman looks up, smiles at you and says “Hello Lucy, it’s great to see you this morning.” Wow, you think, how did she know my name (it’s amazing what a quick look in the appointment book can do to make clients feel welcome.)  You find a seat, it’s a comfortable one (not that you are going to be waiting long…) and then, for the ultimate in great first impressions, the receptionist asks if you want something to drink.  Oh my, you think, what is this? A spa? A restaurant? You decline and she points to the assortment of current great magazines that you can’t wait to start looking through.Within a minute or two, the person you are scheduled to meet with comes into the reception area to personally greet you and walk you back to his or her office.  You stand, follow him/her through the office — receiving warm greetings and smiles from other office workers as you pass through the common areas.  You instantly feel welcome and at ease.  Most importantly, you feel ready to do business with the people in this company that are not only incredibly professional, but who have gone out of their way to make you feel so at home.

The right look to your office, the right “tone” you set for visitors to your company, and the right words spoken with warmth and professionalism by your entire staff all contribute to the perception that your business is one that stands apart from others in your industry.  And, as you’ll find, this outstanding perception will do more than just help grow your business.  It will help you ensure working relationships that last a lifetime.

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