You see a small boy in the water. His hands are in the air and his mouth is wide open as he shouts. You think he is screaming for help. Your business colleague thinks he is shouting for joy.
Everyone has their own individual perception of a situation or another person. This perception is created by what you see, hear, smell, feel, taste, think and understand. It is the process of using the senses to acquire information about the surrounding environment, including people. Scientifically, perception is defined as “the neurological processes involved in acquiring and mentally interpreting information from the senses”.
What is perception?
In simple terms, perception encompasses all of the following:
- An attitude or understanding based on what you observe or think
- You are said to be “perceptive” when you notice or discern things that seem to escape other people
- Perception involves insight, subjective view, acuity, sharp awareness
- It is your “take” or assessment of a situation.
Why are perceptions important to your business?
We all know the common saying that “perception is reality”. Whatever the actual truth is, how people perceive your business, including your brands, products, service and employees, will directly influence their inclination to do business with you.
Managing perception is key
In order to successfully run any size business, you need to manage the perceptions of a diverse group of people …
- Your Consumers – retail shoppers, direct buyers and end users
- Your Customers – corporate buyers, wholesalers and retailers
- Influencers that sway the decisions of your consumers, customers and clients – architects, engineers, accountants, attorneys, business advisors, consultants, business colleagues, family and friends
- Your Agents, Distributors and Dealers
- Your Suppliers
- Your Employees
- The Media
- The Authorities – municipal, provincial and national government organs.
Learning to understanding stakeholder perceptions
- Make a point of getting to understand the perceptions of all the “stakeholders” in your business
- Find out how your customers, suppliers, employees and others view your business by carrying out perception research
- Customer Satisfaction surveys, Mystery Customer visits, Brand Preference surveys and other kinds of research can tell you everything you need to know about your existing customers and potential new markets
- Even if you don’t carry out formal independent research, you can find out a lot by asking your customers yourself. But be prepared for answers you did not quite anticipate!
- Remember … before you enter the water, test the depth and the currents.