Every interaction that a customer has with a company adds to their overall perception of the brand. These interactions can be call-based, virtual, or offline in physical locations.
Customer perception goes beyond the simple ideas of liking or disliking a brand. It includes every thought and feeling that a customer has or may have had about your business.
In simpler terms, it refers to the words and emotions a customer uses to describe your company to someone.
Is customer perception important to a business?
According to Zendesk, 90% of customers are influenced by positive reviews when buying a product.
Therefore, a customer’s reaction towards a product or service they purchase from a brand is crucial to its image in the market. These reactions and the approach that a brand takes in responding to them make a massive difference to every business’s image.
The way a customer feels about your business is impacted by every small move you make for or against your customer’s needs and preferences.
In fact, keeping a close eye on your customer’s perception is integral to ensuring an improved customer experience and higher customer retention.
Regular monitoring of what customers think about your business is vital to understand their buying decisions, their loyalty, and their satisfaction levels.
Some factors that influence a customer’s perception of a company are:
Online ratings and reviews
Nearly nine out of ten consumers worldwide read product reviews before making any purchases. Put simply, what your existing clientele says about a brand affects the buying decisions of leads.
In addition to this, as many as 97% of buyers online also look at how a business responds to their customers on the Internet. Companies that actively engage with their customers are bound to leave a positive impression.
Impression and presence on social media
A brand’s marketing efforts and its presence across various social media platforms play a huge role in influencing customers’ perceptions.
When done thoughtfully and consistently, advertising helps you develop your brand’s image and presence so you can reap maximum benefits.
Additionally, advertising impacts various touchpoints across your consumer’s journey—from helping them discover your products to building long term recall.
Customer support and service
Post-sale services are essential. How you follow up on customers, resolve their concerns and queries, and collect and act upon their feedback—all this is a part of after-sales services.
Remember, you’ve got to care about your customers not just before or during the purchase process but even after if you want them to keep coming back to you.
So, while you work on building and strengthening the brand’s perception in the audience’s mind, you’ve also got to track what your existing clientele thinks of you and work towards improving it.
Here are four effective methods that can help you track customer perception:
1. Social media monitoring
Tracking mentions and reactions of your brand on social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is one of the most effective ways of understanding what people think of your products and services.
Moreover, responding and actively engaging with positive and negative comments, and delivering updates helps customers understand how much you value them.
This also helps you gain more attention from potential customers and encourages them to associate with a brand that communicates proactively.
2. Consistent customer surveys
Surveys regarding brand perception aren’t only simple to conduct but also help you understand your customers better, values that matter to them, and how you can cater to their specific needs and preferences.
You can tailor your surveys to track customer satisfaction metrics such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and CSAT to collect valuable customer insights.
In fact, you can conduct brand perception surveys quarterly and personalise them for each customer to gain their in-depth feedback.
3. Incorporating technology for better insights
Ever-evolving technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), with their understanding of customer emotions and vocabulary, can help you develop a sentiment-centric analysis of your customer base.
AI’s machine learning and natural language processing abilities can also help you track customers’ emotional experiences and understand their perceptions better.
Furthermore, these analyses help in sensing issues that require urgent attention and prioritise customers accordingly.
4. Tracking website traffic
There are various online tools and analytics that help brands gain a deep insight into their customers’ experience.
Using these tools, you can see the number of customers that have searched for your website, opened your emails, added your product to their cart, downloaded your company brochure, and so forth.
A thorough analysis of your website traffic will not only help you understand your customer’s perception in detail but also gauge the overall image of your company.
Measures to enhance customer perception
How a person perceives a company depends on their interaction with a business.
This means that companies have direct control over how their target audience perceives them. Some ways that can help them attain a refined customer perception are:
1. Effective follow-ups with customers
A customer interaction, whether positive or negative, should always be followed up upon.
In case of positive interaction, you can use a customer’s receptive state of mind to up-sell or cross-sell to the customer.
Likewise, in case of an interaction that does not go too well, you can offer assistance or assure your customers that their concerns will be looked after. Also, try to make your customers understand why you are still a right fit for their needs and preferences.
2. Consistency is key
Assuring consistency in updates and messages that customers receive from a brand through different communication channels is a principal factor in setting a brand’s customer perception.
The absence of consistency can confuse your customers, adversely affecting their feelings about your business and the customer experience.
Additionally, achieving features such as integrated messaging across all communication channels such as social media, advertising, etc., will show you as a brand that has a plan in place and not as one that is all over the place.
3. Clear and compassionate communication
Customer concerns should be addressed with solutions instead of vagueness and excuses. And, solutions should be sent their way quickly, without hassle.
Even if a query takes longer than expected to be solved, it is integral to provide customers with real-time updates rather than asking them to wait indefinitely.
It is also necessary to remember that calls shouldn’t be hung up once a customer concern is catered to. Instead, asking customers if there’s anything else they need help with before ending a call should be the protocol.
Customer expectations today are rising at a speed never seen before. Hence, businesses must constantly enhance the experiences they deliver to avoid a massive disconnect.
Moreover, you must focus on both, customer perception and experience to rise above your competitors.
Understand your customers better, decode their problems and offer quick solutions to generate a positive response from their end. More importantly, to enhance customer perception of your brand.
Kritik Verma is a marketing enthusiast with a specialization in digital marketing. He is currently working at Servetel, a leading Cloud Telephony provider offering IVR Service, Toll free number, Virtual number etc to boost business success. He enjoys cycling, travelling, indies music, and reading about the latest digital marketing trends.