Perception is Key to the Decision-Making Process

By Jennifer Griffith, Ohio-Area Regional President of First Merchants Bank

Perceptions of value, convenience and ability are central to how we weed out the massive number of potential companies we choose to do business with.

Knowing the importance of client perceptions, we recently engaged with Saperstein Associates to conduct focus groups with our retail customers so we could learn more about their perceptions of the value, convenience and abilities of First Merchants Bank.

Marty Saperstein has been in the business of public opinion research, including conducting focus group, work for over 35 years.  As Marty taught us, qualitative research reveals the “why” beneath the “what.” Conducted nationwide, their studies target voters, consumers, customers and professionals.  They manage recruiting, moderate, report findings rich in insight, and offer thoughtful recommendations consistent with each study’s specific objectives.

While we have been surveying our clients biennially for over fifteen years, hosting focus groups provides a unique experience to witness behavior in the moment:  emotions, body language and word choices to explain their experience in banking with us.  In all aspects of life and business, it is very easy to not pay attention to or discover our “blind spots;” however, by doing so, it affords you and your team the opportunity to unlock new potential for your business!

The knowledge we learned from our focus group experience has shaped some immediate “call to action,” while other information is being shared with different departments for future strategy and consideration.   We were also able to celebrate our wins and team success by having our clients validate the great work and service we offer.

Our experience working with Marty reminds me how important it is to ask for feedback and never stop asking.  If you haven’t recently done something to garner client feedback, I highly encourage you to give it a try.  Does your clients’ perception match the reality of your company’s brand?