The connection between customer perceptions and sales is so direct, I recommend that every week you ask your staff, "Last week, how did we allow them to see and feel more positively about us? How might we have provoked them to feel negatively?" In merchandising terms you might ask, "How well are you managing your customers' visual and emotional perceptions?"
To learn how your customers feel, you can ask them directly or hire a secret shopper. In the July 2004 edition of NFT, I highlighted the best practice of secret shopping your business, so that you can see it through their eyes. Has your store been secret-shopped by a competitor? How would your competitors -- your most critical audience -- judge your business?