What does your office say about you?
What does your office have in common with the brightly coloured, attractive product packages you see on supermarket shelves? More than you probably realise. Why? Because people use appearances to make judgements about the perceived quality of both products and services.
Why appearances matter
Think about the last time you purchased a product or service. The way it was presented would have helped you determine:
- if the brand was trustworthy
- what to expect in terms of quality
- whether it would deliver the benefits you were after.
As this simple exercise shows, the appearance of a product or service helps shape perceptions of quality, makes evaluation easier for the purchaser and, ultimately, drives purchase behaviour.
Appearances matter for service providers too
Providers of physical goods are well aware of the importance of appearances. They spend a lot of time and money researching and designing product packaging that will appeal to their target markets.
Providers of services, however, typically don’t give appearances as much focus or attention. Firstly, there is the issue of services being intangible. Secondly, many service providers think that the only effective way to demonstrate service quality is through referrals or testimonials. But these two common issues actually increase, rather than decrease, the importance of appearances for service providers.
The physical appearance of a service environment can be used to make the intangible seem more tangible. And by using the service environment as another way of demonstrating service quality, a service provider is not completely reliant on referrals – which are notoriously difficult to obtain without a deliberate strategy.
Create the right impression
Many financial advice practices have been successful at creating service environments that convey a strong message about their expected advice quality. One such practice is Integral Private Wealth located in Sydney’s CBD.
Owner and principal adviser, David Simon, put a lot of thought into the interior design of his reception and client meeting rooms to create a service environment that looks professional and smart without being elitist. Clean lines, fresh accents, and natural wood and stone finishes expertly combine to create a sophisticated yet down-to-earth space that feels welcoming and pragmatic.
“I was obsessed with not projecting the wrong image” said David, “after all how can you expect an adviser to be professional if their space isn’t”. When planning this space, David’s main priorities were to be consistent with his brand, look professional not opulent, create an inviting and interactive space, and keep within his budget. This involved fitting meeting rooms with the latest technology and high speed internet connections, as well as paying meticulous attention to small details such fresh flowers daily and keeping reading material in the waiting room current.
Using your office as a cue for quality
Given clients use the physical surroundings of your office as a cue of the service quality they expect, don’t miss the opportunity to help shape their perceptions. Think about what type of furniture, finishes and colour schemes will positively impact your brand and appeal to your clients.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to how your office should look. Just make sure there’s a clear link to your brand. That way, you’ll know exactly what you want to communicate and who you are trying to communicate with.