Managing customer perception is important in retaining business. The way customers view your company greatly affects whether they will give you return business. If consumers feel respected and treated fairly in a company they perceive to have professional business practices, they're likely to be loyal. If instead customers have the view that they can get better service, prices and treatment elsewhere, they're likely to run to your competition.
The effective management of how your customers perceive your business is impossible if you aren't sure what their perception is exactly. Managing customer perception means first hearing the voice of your consumers. Administering customer surveys can be a very efficient way to learn what your customers think of your company. Even something as simple as having a box for store customers to add comment cards they fill out anonymously can help you get an idea of how consumers view your business.
Keep in mind that many people don't like to give their name when commenting about a business if their comments are in any way critical or negative. On the other hand, the accuracy of the remarks may be less if people don't have to leave their name on comment cards; they may have personal issues with an employee for example and be trying to get him or her in trouble at work. For the most part, however, managing customer perception can be made easier by having comment cards on restaurant tables and near store exits.
Another way to manage customer perspective is to put yourself in your customers' shoes. Look at everything from your products to your service policies as if you were the customer rather than a manager. Managing customer perspective effectively means comparing your offers and policies to those of your competitors. Ask yourself honestly that if you were the customer, would you prefer your business or your competition's.
Managing your employees so they provide excellent customer service is important. Rude or indifferent service can ruin an otherwise positive customer perception of your business. Supervisors and managers must model and expect the top-notch treatment of customers at all times. Deal with any complaints promptly and don't allow your employees to make excuses for poor service or to not have a professionally apologetic attitude toward customers when mistakes occur. If customers perceive a business to not acknowledge or apologize for a mistake, they are less likely to stay loyal to that company.