Businesses have finally started to realize that customer experience is a leading competitive differentiator between brands. And that customer perception towards their brand will always be multi-faceted.
Companies need to pay extra attention to what customers think of their brand. In a recent survey by Edelman, 64% of consumers buy from a brand based on what the company stands for.
In fact, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, customer perception towards brands was also affected by how companies handled the situation.
Now more than ever, a customer’s perception of a brand matters a lot in the making or breaking of a business. As a result, companies are aligning more and more with their customer’s values.
What is customer perception?
Customer perception refers to the beliefs that consumers hold about a company. It is the accumulation of customer experience, marketing efforts, and general word of mouth.
And as consumer buying decisions are largely based on how they perceive your business, creating positive customer perception is business-critical.
Positive perception towards your brand makes all the difference. It makes the company trustworthy and means customers want to get involved with your brand, and therefore, your bottom line!
Needless to say that companies need to be proactive in spreading a positive image of their brands. And the first step to do so is by actually measuring how customers perceive you!
Measuring customer perception
Customer perception sounds intangible, impossible to measure, and even harder to control. After all, perceptions of a brand are subjective and dependent on complex and often unpredictable channels like word of mouth.
Thankfully, there are several effective tools to help you gather customers’ insights and measure perceptions of your brand:
Seek out information on people’s feelings about your brand or product directly by using tools such as surveys or polls.
Depending on what kind of data you need, you can use more targeted or open-ended questions. For example, calling customers to conduct interviews and focus groups are good ways of gathering more in-depth information.
Most information on people’s impressions of your company will come from monitoring social media.
This includes observing interactions on your own social media and keeping track of mentions of your company in external publications.
Attentive customer service
Interactions with customers through customer service can provide insight. Train your employees to listen to customers’ attitudes and needs actively.
Appropriate software can also help you in this task, such as AI that gathers “sentiment data”.
How to improve customer perception?
Once you’ve gathered information on how customers perceive your brand, you can attempt to modify your brand image as required.
You won’t see results instantly, but the only way to gain loyal customers is by keeping your brand image in check.
We’ve gathered insight on tactics to improve your customer perception effectively :
Respond to feedback
Use negative feedback as an opportunity to improve; show your customers that you care about resolving problems with your product or service.
Addressing a complaint on social media can improve customer advocacy while resolving issues in the customers’ favor significantly impacts their likelihood of returning.
Don’t miss the opportunity to follow up on positive impressions either! Responding to positive feedback is an excellent way to consolidate your relationship with customers.
Create an emotional connection
Engaging customers emotionally is key to building a strong and lasting relationship. But doing so requires you to dig deeper and to understand your customers’ needs and motivations.
Go beyond asking what function your product serves, and ask how it can align with their identity, aspirations, and social relations.
Stay on top of digital marketing trends
Studies among consumers and marketers alike have revealed that most believe user-generated content (UGC) is more authentic.
UGC is more effective at establishing trust than traditional marketing and highly influential in informing purchasing decisions, so you’ll definitely want to incorporate it!
Although you want to be promoting the kinds of authentic interactions that customers desire, remember that it is up to you to manage your image. So be selective and intentional in your use of UGC.
Think about which channels are most appropriate and what kind of interactions – hashtag campaigns, gamification – will serve your purpose best. Be open to negative comments and respond to them, but make sure to showcase the positive ones!
Integrate your database to improve information flow
Data silos are a regular source of frustration to customers, who expect consistent interactions across departments.
As a result, it’s vital that you manage your data so it’s readily accessible across departments, as well as to customers when relevant.
Work across channels
Integrating communications applies outside of your internal organization too. Customers expect companies to be readily available across channels (on social media, company website, etc.) and expect a consistent experience throughout.
So, work across channels to create engagement opportunities and provide quality customer service.
Consolidate your foundations
Develop an integrated approach where your company vision and core operating values reflect the way you want to be perceived.
Consciously choosing a “customer-centric” outlook that recognizes the need to engage and empower customers will help create consistency in your interactions.
Not only will this translate into greater customer satisfaction, but it is a key sustainable approach that strives to build a long-term positive experience for your brand.
Customer perception represents what customers feel about your brand, and the company’s vision at large.
Pay extra attention to your customers’ perception and focus on how you can enhance customer experience.
Your potential customer might be easily influenced by unfavourable word-of-mouth. So it’s important to counteract with positive messages and communications!
About the Author: Taylor Ryan is a six-time startup founder, currently a Partner at Klint Marketing. Taylor is an American living in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he has run the marketing departments for some of Denmark’s fastest-growing startups.