Perception – Product and Service
Recently I visited Posh Pets in the newly opened stage 2 of the redevelopment of Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre. Only a few days had passed since this new pet accessories store opened and Lynn and John, the proprietors, have done a brisk trade. In fact, Lynn greeted me with a big welcoming grin which is quite funny as her surname is Chessher – ok not the same spelling as the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but the grin was identical. In a matter of days, Lynn had to restock the shelves no less than 10 times. This blog is about the power of perception. It’s about how having a unique product, creating a memorable brand and molding customer’s perception of your business can come together to create business nirvana.
I was very fortunate in being involved in the design of Posh Pets. I had previously designed the Client’s Marina Mirage store on the Gold Coast before Lynn approached me to be involved in this project. Initially Lynn wanted me to design the Carindale store identical to the Gold Coast one as she liked what we had designed for her previously. However, the new store and its position required that we design a store to another level of finish and perception. She was open to this and was very pleased with the result.
We began by discussing who her target market was and what their expectations were. It was agreed that the customer had a high disposable income and their pets meant everything to them. The design of the shop, the product and the service had to be integrated to create a perception of quality and uniqueness. The customers who entered her Gold Coast store had a very close relationship with their pets. They pampered them and took great care and effort to ensure that they were happy. This same level of care in all aspects of the business was paramount. Lynn’s customers expect a high level of service that went beyond merely providing a service, but great sensitivity, understanding and a personalised service.
Perception Without Cost
The design of Posh Pets is one that you would expect to see in a high end fashion precinct – polished stainless steel, natural stone, stitched leather, rare timbers. Yet good design need not cost a fortune. Rather than use expensive materials, we were able to create the look without the expected financial outlay. Natural stone was replaced with a laminate that was difficult to tell it was a laminate; rare veneers replaced with a textured melamine; and stitched leather by stitched vinyl paneling.
The ‘P’s of Perception
Perception involves every aspect of how we present our brand to our customer. From the way our shop is designed, how our products are displayed and packaged, the service we provide including follow up and personal service, to how we market our business.
The power of perception can be created by paying attention to the P’s:
1. Product presentation
2. Personal service
3. Point of Difference
1. Product Presentation – Designing the ‘scare’ into Scarcity
Perception is about how you present things to your customers. For example, often high end fashion boutiques have an air of exclusivity about them. This image is carefully managed by presenting product in a way that it looks valuable. The value of an item is equal to the demand for the item versus its supply. Have you ever noticed that shops selling expensive items only have a few items on show and these items are displayed to create an air of desire? Designing a perception of scarcity is about the ‘scare’ – the fear that they will miss out. Fear is a strong emotion and as we know most purchases of higher end items are done through emotion rather than through any real need.
When you enter a high end store how do you feel? Do you feel special as you walk through the front doors. Does the shiny surfaces and attentive staff make you feel very different than when you enter a two dollar discount shop? You’ll often see that finishes are pared down to the very basics and there is attention to details. Also the shopfront has been specially designed to ‘frame’ the products that are displayed.
It is part of our psyche to want even more what is in high demand but low supply. It has effect that if we possess these items we will stand out in society and be noticed. We will be deemed special that we can afford or able to procure these items. The ability to create desire for an object or brand can be carefully planned and orchestrated.
2. Personal Service | Looks Can Thrill But Must Be Followed Up By Top Service
Top Notch Service
Beyond aspects of product it is the service or the level of service that will set your business apart.
Do You Hold Your Customers On A Pedestal?
Exceptional product needs to be followed by exceptional service. Do your staff greet potential customers with a genuine smile. Do you have a protocol on how to approach customers and how to deal with customer issues and complaints? Do your staff have exceptional product knowledge? Do they understand or are trained to understand the customer’s needs, wants, and desires?
5 Star Service Without the A 5 Star Cost
Think of the service you expect to receive if you stay at a 5-star hotel. Now visualise and think how can you translate this level of service to your business. It need not be an expensive thing to do. The right training of your staff is an aspect that need not be a financial burden on your business. It is the little things, the subtle things that make all the difference. Focus on improving the little things and know that incremental change can having a massive compounding effect on your bottom line. Service is about how you can best provide for the needs of your customers – if you can focus on knowing and understanding every aspect of your customer’s needs and desires, designing effective ways to meet their requirements will become second nature and result in increased sales and a loyal customer base.
3. Point Of Difference
Retail is a hard market, but it not need be if you do something different to the average Joe or Joanne. Being different doesn’t mean you have to dress up like a raving lunatic wearing bright colours and being something that your not. It simply means getting to really know your customer and catering as discussed above, to their needs. The customer you should focus on isn’t the one that buys purely on price, as there is always some Joe down the road ready to undercut you including online e-commerce sites.
Create a BRANDtastic Experience
Bricks and mortar retail has always been about providing the best solutions for your customers – product that is different and what they need and service and knowledge that makes your customers feel comfortable in their decisions.
A common mistake that many retailers make is not really understanding their market and wanting to be everything to everyone. A way to create your point of difference is to understand which market you would like to target and specialise.
Lynn specialises in pet accessories – lovely leather and diamonte collars, pet clothing, beautiful bowls, etc. She has found a niche market with a very targeted audience. Are you trying to cater to a broad audience and watering down your effectiveness?
Special has lost a lot of its ‘specialness’ and has become associated with discounts. How do you make your customers feel special. Listen, understand, sell them relevant product, get to know them and their needs. Discounts are lovely, and everyone loves a bargain, but discerning customers prefer to have a holistic experience. They like to leave your establishment feeling that they had made the right buying decision and leave with a smile and are ready to tell others abut the exceptional service and products that you provide.
In Part 2 of The Power of PURRception we take a look at how your customers can help you develop and build your brand without the need for bribes and incentives, but because they believe in the authenticity and integrity of the brand. In Part 2 of The Power of PURRception we discuss the fourth ‘P’ – Promotion.
#brand awareness #building your brand #Cheshire Cat #customer service #Gold Coast #Marina Mirage #perception #point of difference #Posh Pets #PURRception #Westfield Carindale