Perception Engineering

When it comes to perception, it is often make or break for an organization. A company that finds itself on the negative side of public perception is going to have to fight an uphill battle to acquire and retain customers. On the other hand, an organization that is positively perceived is going to enjoy the benefits of public goodwill, which often translates to higher sales. This template allows you to lay out a subject and the perception of that subject. You can then move towards a desired perception by modifying the contributing factors to the current perception. You can also develop new factors that would work alongside these modifications to further improve perception. Utilizing tools like this can help understand how perception of the organization can move towards a desired state.

Below we have a blank perception engineering template which can be found at

How to Use:

  1. The first step is to determine the current perception of the subject being reviewed. The subject could be a website, a store, a moving company, a HR Department, a product or service, etc. Once the subject is determined, determine what the perception of it is. You can determine perception through surveys, discussions, or other feedback mechanism. For the purposes of this template we are going to use the example of a consultant that is tasked with suggesting how to improve perception of a large national retail chain. This includes figuring out the factors driving the current perception, suggesting how to address those factors, and suggest new independent factors that would improve perception. The consultant has determined that customer perception of the retailer is that of being low end with dismal employee relations.
  2. Once you have determined the subject’s perception, list the factors that are driving that current perception. These can be broad or specific. For example the perception of a restaurant might be driven by a single review written by a prominent food critic. This would be a specific factor. A broad factor might be a combination of reviews on a website. Our consultant has identified several contributing factors which are driving the current customer perception. These include employee lawsuits, scathing online reviews, a strong association with the decline of American manufacturing, as well as new competitive alternatives that are seen as more socially focused.Picture1
  3. Looking at the factors driving perception, how can we engineer them so that they are mitigated or even turned into positive drivers of perception? This is what I call factor modification. Go ahead and modify the contributing factors so as to reduce their impact on the current perception. List those modifications in the Factor Modification column. For our example our consultant has recommended increasing transparency about lawsuits in order to get out ahead of them. Personalized responses to complaints and a forum for consolidating those complaints was also suggested. The association with the decline of American manufacturing could be mitigated with new “Made in America” sections of the store. Picture2
  4. Now determine the desired perception of the subject. For our example, the retailer wants to be seen as a value retailer that provides a stable career to it’s employees. To reach this perception, simply addressing the contributing factors of the current perception is not enough. New factors might have to be introduced that further engineer perception. So the consultant has proposed a transparent employee development program that would be available for all to see. The consultant suggested implementing new incentive programs that would reward cleanliness and good customer service. Employees would be rewarded for remaining with the organization with stock awards. Another suggestion is a program where American entrepreneurs would be given assistance to help bring their ideas to market. Picture3
  5. An optional last step might be to use color coding to classify factors or suggestions. Our consultant presented the ideas to the client and color coded suggestions based on whether they were accepted or not. Picture4

You can find this finished perception engineering template at

Perception engineering is vital in this new era of instant communication and unlimited access to information. Never before have customers been able to access and consolidate their perceptions of an organization so easily or efficiently. Where one used to ask a neighbor about a local restaurant, now they get the opinions of everyone who took the time to post a review of it. Therefore understanding the perception of an organization, and continually working to improve that perception is critical to organizational success. This template provides a structured tool to help you monitor and engineer perception.

You can find more information about perception engineering using the following links.
1. Thomas Net “Focused on product perception”
2. Yonyx “A lot of detail here. The author really focuses on why so many people misunderstand metrics.”

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