Know your blind spots – 5 reasons to conduct a perception audit

By Luke Henshall

Not so long ago, every business assumed that the keys to success were the highest quality product, the best value for the buck, and the best customer service. Now all we hear about is providing the best "customer experience."

But how do you really know what your customers are experiencing? For some service industries like hospitality, it can be as easy as getting a mystery diner or shopper, meanwhile for business based around a digital platform, where CX is paramount, metrics are readily available.

For most of us though in SME-land, customer experience goes beyond the digital realm and can be harder to define – the range of customers/clients can be extensive, you may have irregular contact with them and chances are in true Kiwi style, even if they did have a gripe they wouldn't tell you openly, instead preferring to keep it on the down-low to avoid conflict only for you to find out later when you miss out on a big piece of work to a competitor.

That is where a customer perception audit comes into play. What is that I hear you ask? Well it's essentially a survey conducted by an objective third party to find out more about your performance and importantly your relationship with your customers. And there's no shortage of reasons for how they can help:

1.Picking up on unforeseen blind spots

What we think we know about how a customer feels about us differs from actually how they feel about us. If you've ever worked in HR you're probably familiar with this concept from the Myers- Brigg's personality test. It's about boosting our self-awareness as while we will never be able to control how we are perceived it will at least help us manage those perceptions. The same goes for a customer. It's a matter of recognising you have blind spots, identifying and addressing them.

2.Ensuring that your projected attributes match your customers' needs

When you market a service offering or product you make a commitment to your clients and there's an expectation to deliver to meet their needs or provide a solution at that point in time. The thing is though, business needs are dynamic depending on their marketplace and needs can change over time. By checking in with a perception audit you're keeping pace with the challenges being faced by your client.

3.Discovering new business opportunities

Continuing on from the above point, with a neutral third party conducting your perception audit, the customer or client in question is usually willing to talk more openly about what's happening in their world. A new project. A new service. Whatever it is, their opportunity is your opportunity to re-think how you could provide additional value.

4.Telling your existing customers that you value their input and that you are serious about understanding them

Actions speak louder than words. The mere gesture of booking in time with your customer or client, says you value their input and take your relationship seriously. And the fact you have an objective party, shows you are big enough to take on a warts-and-all view and that you care about them and the service or quality of the product you offer.

5.Cost effective

There are no shortage of market research companies out there offering insights into how well received a product or service is. But the reality is, even the most advanced forms of qualitative analysis, basically come down to a two-way conversation (or in the case of focus groups multiple way dialogue). It doesn't need over complicating and a perception audit through Clarity will provide a cost effective way to obtain a comprehensive and clear report of customer views, with key outtakes that have the potential to greatly add to your bottom line.

For more information on perception audits, feel free to contact us on 09 950 2690, on LinkedIn or via Twitter @ShapeTheMessage


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