Customer Perception: Definition, How to Track and Improve It
Orininal article: https://www.freshworks.com/freshdesk/customer-support/customer-perception-blog/
Customer experience is key to gauge how your customers perceive your brand. The reaction that customers have in response to the way your company treats them is crucial. Businesses have to work hard to attain and retain customers, for which keeping an eye on customer perception matters throughout their lifecycle.
You have more influence than you think over the way customers feel about you, and in this post, we’ll look at what customer perception is, how to track it, and how you can positively influence it for your business.
WHAT IS CUSTOMER PERCEPTION?
The term ‘customer perception’ describes a customer’s subjective thoughts and feelings about your brand. They form their opinions through every interaction they have with your company, on advertisements, social media, product usage, and customer service to name a few.
It’s more than having customers simply like you; customer perception spans the entire range of thoughts and feelings customers have about you, and the words they might use to describe your business.
WHY IS CUSTOMER PERCEPTION IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Customer perception is the inner voice of customers that determines the value they see in a brand. It is essential to keep a close eye on customer perception because it influences whether they’re satisfied with the value of the product you provide, if (and how) they recommend you to their friends and family, and if they continue to be your customers.
Tracking customer perception is essential to shaping your customer experience, which is becoming a more critical factor in the buying process than the price and product. Your organization needs to play an active role in influencing how customers perceive your brand and ensure consistency and reliability. It shouldn’t be something just left to chance.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT IMPACT CUSTOMER PERCEPTION?
Brand vision and appeal – This is the conscious way your company embodies its principles and values and reflects on all messaging that goes out to customers. Customers want to buy from brands that have similar values to themselves.
Customer reviews on platforms – 93% of customers read online reviews before buying a product, and this is why you should be responding to all reviews, positive or negative. You can’t control the reviews, but customers will be impressed with companies who engage with them. It’s also an excellent opportunity to do right by your customers and go back to the drawing board to improve their experience.
Advertising and social media buzz – The way you present your brand through marketing naturally has a heavy influence on customer perception. Adverts and social media help to develop the image of your brand and should have consistent messaging throughout.
First-hand experience – Customers have many direct experiences with your brand, from interacting on social media, buying products, and solving their problems with your products. These all influence how customers feel about you and should be optimized to offer a positive experience.
Pricing and price-to-performance ratio – This is the value that your product delivers relative to its pricing and has a significant impact on whether customers perceive they are getting a good deal for their money. Keep the pricing transparent and straightforward without any hidden outliers to gain their trust.
Quality customer service – The way you take care of your customers after the sale has a huge bearing on customer perception. Quality customer service shows you value your customers and are willing to invest in not letting them go.
While factors like branding and marketing are vital in acquiring new customers, what matters the most in your brand’s ongoing perception is how you take care of existing customers after the sale. Ensure this is reflected in your budget for customer service and invest heavily in providing a delightful experience for customers during their lifetime.
4 WAYS TO TRACK CUSTOMER PERCEPTION
#1 Monitor social media
Respond to comments and queries on social media. Engaging with positive or negative feedback on social media not only gets you in the good books of your existing customers but also captures the attention of potential leads on social media. It makes good business sense – 71% of customers who have a positive experience with brands on social media are likely to recommend them to friends and family.
#2 Track CSAT and NPS metrics
If you’re already using a customer service software, track customer satisfaction (CSAT) by asking customers to rate every support interaction after resolving their issue. Periodically track NPS to (net promoter score) to measure the customer loyalty attached to your brand. Use their ratings and reviews to identify specific customer pain points and resolve them. Respond to customers who are not happy with their experience to turn their perception of your brand around.
#3 Leverage technology to gather proactive insights
Use AI helpdesk technology for sentiment analysis of customer reviews, responses, and feedback. Set up keywords to track customer conversations across channels from a single page. Sentiment analysis allows businesses to track the emotional experience using machine learning and natural language processing. Identify urgent issues immediately and assign them a high priority to stay on top of customer service.
#4 Create personalized surveys for different customer segments
Segment your customer base by demographics or product and send them personalized surveys with the right questions for more in-depth feedback. Once you’ve gathered this feedback, make sure to take action and follow up with customers regarding your progress.
HOW TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER PERCEPTION
Customer perception is a by-product of how you treat them through every interaction. This means you have control of how customers perceive your brand. Below, we go over some specific tips for how you can do this.
#1 Aim for consistency
A core part of the definition of customer perception is how customers think and feel about your brand. But what if customers get contradictory or disconnected messages from different channels?
The absence of consistency impacts customer perception, confuses your customers, undermines your marketing efforts, and potentially harms your brand’s visibility. That’s why you should strive to have integrated messaging implemented across all channels, from advertising, social media, customer service tickets, and beyond.
It can help develop company values that everyone in the company uses to create consistency for the customer. Focus on values like customer-centricity, brand identity, and effective storytelling to implement a repeatable approach in messaging.
#2 Examine your internal processes
Sometimes having overly rigid processes in place can get in the way of you providing genuine, human interactions with customers. You need to remove bottlenecks that your employees face to do their best work and allow them some license to approach customers.
For example, ask yourself whether you are proactive or reactive in your customer communications. You should always try to anticipate problems before they arrive, which will give customers a better impression of your brand. Create SOPs, make collaboration easier, deploy intuitive tools, and back them to take critical calls.
#3 Follow up with customers after every conversation
There are no disadvantages to following up with customers after you talk to them. Whether the interaction was positive or negative, customers always appreciate hearing from you.
If it was a positive interaction, you could make a follow-up call to upsell or cross-sell to the customer since they are already in a receptive frame of mind. After a negative interaction, you can prevent customer churn by collecting feedback about the bad experience, resolving the issue, and reassuring them that your business is still the right choice for their needs.
By taking just a tiny amount of time to follow up with customers, you can make more sales and save more customers than if you didn’t bother at all.
#4 Communicate clearly, quickly, and compassionately
Whenever customers interact with you, ensure you have agents who are well-trained to respond quickly and clearly. Don’t try to make excuses for problems to customers, and instead reply with facts and solutions.
Don’t keep your customers waiting on an issue, even if it’s going to take a long time to resolve. Get them in on what you’re doing behind the scenes with timely updates. At the same time, don’t try to rush customers off the phone once you think you’ve solved their problem – always ask if there’s anything more you can do to help.
Angry customers are unavoidable but always respond with compassion and empathy to calm customers down, understand their frustration, and leave a favorable impression of your brand.
The ever-rising customer expectations create the pressure to stand apart from your competitors and make sure they positively perceive your brand. Emphasize the importance of customer perception in every encounter you have with a customer. Make an honest effort to understand their issues at a deeper level with the support of a fluid customer-facing framework and customer experience tools – they will be very likely to respond favorably and give cues about their perception of your brand.