Do you know what customers really think about your business?
Achieving a positive customer perception can boost conversions and customer retention.
In contrast, negative perceptions will only stunt your growth.
In fact, for some businesses, it’s even meant their demise.
But what does achieving a positive perception actually entail?
How do you make sure your customers have the best opinion of your business?
In this blog, we’ll reveal all. You’ll learn:
- The definition of customer perception
- Why it’s important to measure it
- The factors that affect how your customers perceive you
- The tools and techniques you need to improve your perception for the long run
Let’s get started.
What is customer perception?
The term customer perception refers to your customers’ opinions about your brand.
It’s a subjective attitude they’ve developed from a variety of factors - both direct and indirect.
For example, say a customer buys your product and enjoys a great experience with your brand.
Their perception of you will be a positive one.
If a customer suffers poor customer service - or even hears about it from another customer - their perception is going to sour.
Why is customer perception important?
Everything your customers hear about your brand will affect their perception.
In turn, their perceptions affect future decisions and purchases - making it an incredibly important metric to consider.
For instance, 81% of customers state that they’ll only buy from a brand they find trustworthy.
It means that these customers are more likely to buy from companies with a great reputation.
At the same time, social media and online reviews have made it much easier for new customers to discover your business.
But these customers can also discover negative opinions about your business too.
They'll also find your competitors vying for their attention.
Couple these facts together, and it’s easy to see how a negative perception can push customers to shop elsewhere.
What affects customer perception?
Customers will form their opinions from a variety of sources - some of which you have more control over than others.
These factors can include:
- Your marketing output
- Your values as a business
- Your customer service quality
- Customer reviews
- Customer social media mentions
Let’s break down each into more detail.
1. Your marketing
Brands will often use specific marketing strategies to attract and influence key demographics.
These might include using humorous or thought-provoking campaigns, depending on the brand’s tone of voice and identity.
Brands will also use different marketing channels to different ends too.
For example, fast fashion retailers are going to be more reliant on social media, rather than traditional TV advertising.
Whatever demographic a brand tries to reach, managing your perception through marketing requires in-depth research and clarity of purpose.
Related article: Want to learn more about how to engage your customers? Find some inspiration with our favourite customer engagement examples.
2. Your values
Your brand values are also a crucial factor in influencing your customers’ perceptions.
Listing them on your website can help prove your reputation as a brand.
These company values can be customer-centric, as well as societal or environmental.
For example, a brand might aim to provide the most memorable experiences to their customers.
At the same time, they might also seek to improve their carbon footprint.
Even so, actions speak louder than words.
So remember, customers will have a better opinion about the brands that actually live up to their values, rather than those that pay lip service.
Related article: Want to learn more about the importance of brand values? Get expert advice on increasing your customer engagement.
3. Your customer service quality
Supporting your customers with the best service possible is crucial - whatever the contact channel.
This is because customer service has a huge effect on how customers talk about your business.
For instance, 87% of customers will share great experiences with others.
In contrast, 95% of customers will share bad experiences too.
It makes customer service one of the key frontlines for improving customer perception.
Related article: Want to take your customer service efforts to the next level? Make your customers smile by completing these 8 SMART customer service goals.
4. Customer reviews
79% of customers trust reviews as much as recommendations from their friends and families.
Positive reviews are great social proof for your business.
They help to prove you as a trustworthy brand.
That said, receiving negative reviews doesn't always have to be a complete disaster.
They’re a useful indicator for the areas in which you need to improve.
They also provide the perfect opportunity to demonstrate proactive customer service too.
5. Customer social media mentions
Much like online reviews, customer social media posts can also affect your customers' perceptions.
That said, social media posts are also much more likely to meet a wider audience.
This can work both for and against you.
A great social media review might introduce new customers to your business.
In contrast, negative social media coverage might turn customers away.
This might happen even before they've learned who you really are.
To combat this possibility, a focus on stellar customer service is once again vital.
How do you measure customer perception?
There are a few key ways in which you can get a better understanding of your customers’ perceptions. These include:
- NPS scores
- Review analysis
- Social media listening
- Market research
- Customer service analysis
Let’s take a look at each in turn.
1. NPS scores
Net Promoter Scores aim to uncover how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to others.
It’s one of the easiest ways to get concrete statistics on your customers’ perceptions.
After all, if your customers are happy to advocate you to others, it’s clear that they see you as trustworthy.
2. Review analysis
Direct reviews and testimonials can be great for your brand.
That said, direct feedback might not give you the full picture.
Customers are more likely to give impartial feedback on external review sites.
Take sites like Trustpilot and G2, for example.
These sites gather and total customer reviews to produce an overall star rating.
This is great for a quick insight into how your customers currently perceive you.
You can also take a deep dive into both positive and negative reviews.
It’ll give you a more thorough understanding, as well as inspiration for the areas in which you need to improve.
3. Social media listening
Social media listening is a website engagement tool that allows you to analyze how customers talk about your brand online.
It'll help you gain fast insights into your customers' true opinions.
It’s also a great tool for responding to comments.
That way, you can highlight the positive interactions while dealing with the negative ones quickly and efficiently.
4. Market research
Interviewing customers can be a great way to learn more about their perceptions.
Consider interviewing customers who’ve never bought from you before, as well as those that converted.
For example, e-commerce stores could survey customers who abandoned their shopping carts.
The responses you receive will give you real insights into your customers’ perceptions - as well as the reasons why they didn’t convert.
5. Customer service analysis
By analysing the sentiment in your customer interactions, you’ll gain fast insights into your customers’ real opinions.
The same is true for support tickets too.
Repeat tickets can reveal underlying issues affecting your perception.
So, remember to review your interactions.
If you offer live chat to your customers, make sure you analyze your live chat transcripts.
If you’ve deployed a chatbot on your website, keep track of the most important chatbot analytics too.
How do you build a positive customer perception for your brand?
As we’ve seen, many factors influence your customers’ perceptions.
To make sure you’re building a positive image for your brand, take into account the following tips:
- Learn who your customers really are
- Build trust
- Become customer-centric
- Be available - wherever your customers are
Let’s dive in a little further.
1. Learn who your customers really are
To ensure your customers' perceptions remain as positive as possible, you need to make sure you’re targeting your real audience.
After all, you don’t want to waste any time trying to influence the wrong demographics.
For instance, say you primarily serve Millennial and Gen Z customers. Why prioritize print advertising when you can focus on social media instead?
To get started on learning more about your customers, take a deep dive into your site’s analytics.
Use surveys to develop an understanding of the types of customers you’re serving too.
It’ll help you craft a more positive and specific perception.
2. Build trust
Once you've targeted the right customers, you want to make sure that you’re always demonstrating yourself as a trustworthy brand.
The great news is that you can build customer trust in a variety of ways.
Even your site’s design and user experience can help to broadcast respectability.
To get started building trust, analyze your digital customer journey and your promise of value.
Make sure you demonstrate and follow your brand values too.
It’ll prove to your customers that you always stick to your promises.
3. Become customer-centric
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
Statistics like this are proof that customer experience has become the key brand differentiator.
It’s no longer enough to have competitive prices and a great standard of product.
Customers want to know they are being treated well throughout their entire journey.
As such, companies that foster a customer-centric culture consistently outperform those that don’t.
In fact, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable.
To get started with a customer-centric approach, focus on creating more meaningful relationships.
Prioritise customer conversation, feedback, and research.
By listening to your customers and learning their pain points, you’ll be able to design a digital customer experience strategy that vastly improves the customer perception.
4. Be available - wherever your customers are
When it comes to providing a positive customer experience, near 80% of US customers cite the following as crucial:
- Knowledgeable help
- Friendly service
It’s why you need to provide your audience with fast and helpful customer service - wherever they are and whenever they need it.
The easiest way to do this is to adopt an omnichannel customer engagement solution.
For example, Talkative allows you to engage with customers whether they are shopping on your site or browsing social media.
Live chat and chatbots allow you to provide fast customer service, 24/7.
You can even bring the in-store experience online by using video chat for customer service.
Whatever communication channels you use, providing your customers with a fast way to engage will mean a much-improved perception.
Looking for a smarter way to serve your online customers? Start a free trial with Talkative today.
The takeaway on customer perception
Positive customer perceptions are one of the most valuable assets a brand can have.
But with so many variables affecting your customers' attitudes, it can prove tricky to influence.
After all, everyone’s entitled to their opinions.
Either way, if you can improve how customers perceive your brand, you’re more likely to boost conversions and retention.
So, to make these improvements for your customer perception:
First, consider how you market your business.
Next, consider how you reflect and respond to customer reviews too - both good and bad.
Finally, consider how effective your online customer service really is.
Ultimately, it’s one of the key ways in which customers develop their perceptions.
With the right customer service solution, it’s one of the quickest ways to win them over too.
And that's where Talkative comes in.
Our real-time engagement platform enables you to reach your high-value customers on their favorite channels.
What's more, with our intelligent engagement features, you can always match your customers with the right advisor at the right time.
In turn, you can increase engagement, improve customer perception, and humanize your customer experience.
Want to learn more? Book your Talkative demo today, and discover how to increase customer satisfaction across your website, app, and social channels.