Thursday, June 30, 2005

Perception is everything...well...almost everything

So how many methodologies do you use to determine patron satisfaction? If all you're doing is assessing satisfaction after-the-fact, then you may be missing out on some great opportunities to know your patrons' needs better. Enter: perception research.

An article from CMO Magazine explains that perception research is, "a tool that helps professional services firms understand the forces that drive their clients' needs—and enables them be in the right place at the right time to meet those needs." In a nutshell, perception research can help shed some light on how patrons perceive you and your services.

To do perception research, you can use the same tools you're already using (focus groups, online surveys, etc.). The point is to ask questions that draw out patrons' unmet needs and figure out what their expectations are so that you can better plan for the future, rather than focusing on what's already happened. The article explains three techniques you can use to do this: 1. projective interviewing, 2. laddering, and 3. using hierarchical value maps. These techniques are new to me, so you may want read the CMO article and/or do some digging on your own to figure out how best to put them to use. This kind of research makes lots of sense though - I'm excited to give it a try!

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