How to Manage Perceptions So They Work For You Not Against You
Sixty seconds is not a long time. Yet that is all it takes for a customer to gain a quick perception of your store and of you. This perception then becomes a reality to the customer. All in sixty seconds. It doesn’t seem like much of a chance.
Yet, if we know it only takes that amount of time, why don’t we manage that time better? What can you do to make the most impact possible in the shortest amount of time? What can you do to make your employees embrace making a positive impact?
Just do three easy steps:
Step One: Managing the visual perception
Start by walking in to your store with a clean set of eyes. What do you see? Is the first impression clear? Cluttered? Is it visually appealing? What about the uniforms you use? Do they wear well? Do they look nice? Do they “fit” the image of your store? Don’t make the mistake of dressing like your customer. Instead dress for how you want the customer to view you.
Take Action: At your next meeting, have your employees list ten words they would like the customers to use to describe your store. The words should describe the feeling one gets when they enter the store. For example: kind, courteous, impeccable, professional, caring, down to earth. Once you have picked your ten words have the employees look at the store, dress, policies and attitudes so they can describe what they need to do to fit those ten words. Many of my clients post these words by a full-length mirror in a back room.
Step Two: Managing How a Person Hears Your Message
Always keep in mind that there are four distinct personality styles and you can never step on the hot button of any or you will stop the other person from listening to you.
The Connector will always want to do a good job, give lots of detail when speaking, be loyal and hardworking. His hot button is stability and he gets this through personal courtesies. If you must do any constructive criticism, give it privately. Notice their work and praise them.
The Networker is high energy, goes in a million directions at once, sees the big picture but usually is poor at following through on details. Her hot button is recognition and she gets this by being people oriented. Give praise publicly and praise their work. Help this person unleash their creativity.
The Producer is bottom line oriented, hard working, abrupt and goal oriented. His hot button is power and he gets this through control. This person will thrive the more freedom you give them to implement things and take charge. If young, be aware that they might not have the maturity to realize when they have crossed the line with people in being too assertive. This person will get angry if you publicly criticize them. This person will love contests.
The Analyzer is focused, organized, and precise. They believe you do things right or don’t do them at all. Her hot button is accuracy and she gets it through data. This person will do best with detailed instructions of what to do, when to do it and why they are doing it. They usually will not be big chatters with customers. Make sure you notice their precision and be patient with training them, as they will want to know the “why” of everything you as them to do.
Step 3: Phrase Your Message to Shatter Barriers
A good example of this was a hotel that was having problems with people stealing towels. Instead of putting up a sign saying, “Please don’t take the towels.” They made up a cute sign saying, “We are a little family hanging here for your use. Please don’t take any of us out of this room, as we are very attached to each other. We do, however, have some cousins down in the gift shop that love to travel. They would be happy to go home with you!” They said the number of towels being stolen virtually stopped and they had numerous customers asking if they could take a copy of the sign home with them!
Use Outcome Thinking® to get people to listen to you without feeling judged. Take in to account the person’s personality style and then try to speak from that perspective. Always make sure you believe the best in others and that every conversation you have adds value to that person.
Challenge employees to think how you can creatively phrase things to get customers to chuckle rather than get upset. You might even want to run a contest for this. As a manager or owner, always ask yourself, “how can I appeal to the lighter side of this issue and still make my point?”
Pulling it together
When you pull these three elements together you can create a powerful team that focuses on the customer. Challenge your team to use their natural talents to drive business and push you to new heights. If you use these steps and you allow your people to tell you how to manage them, you will find that your employees become empowered. They will treat the customers the same way they feel you treat them-which will be like gold.