When your company is in a competitive niche, it’s often not enough to offer high-quality products and services. You also have to consider how customers perceive your business.
So what is customer perception, and why is it important to your business?
What Is Customer Perception?
Customer perception refers to how a customer sees, interprets and feels about your brand, both rationally and emotionally. It can include their expectations of how your brand will support or serve them, as well as their beliefs, experiences and impressions of your brand, both positive and negative. Customer perception is built both consciously and subconsciously, and is developed from the total of all the experiences they’ve had with your brand, both large and small.
Why Is Perception Important in Business?
How customers perceive your business to a large extent determines whether they will buy from you, which in turn affects your bottom line.
If you foster a positive perception, consumers are more inclined to trust your business. But someone who forms a negative perception isn’t likely to continue purchasing your goods and services—they might even speak poorly of your business to others.
Being aware of customer perception helps your organization know what you’re doing right and what needs improvement. You’ll also have a better understanding of what motivates consumers to engage with your brand.
Factors Affecting Customer Perception
Several factors influence how customers think and feel about your business.
1. Customer Experiences
A customer’s personal experience with your business makes a lasting impression—no other factor will play as big a role in determining their perception of your brand. For instance, a first-time customer that enjoyed the product, the pricing, and your customer service would start forming a good opinion of your business from that experience alone.
2. Social Media & Reviews
Nowadays, more consumers do online research first before they come to a purchasing decision. They’ll typically check out:
- Social media pages
- Review sites
- Your website
In addition to learning about your products, this research lets them find out how you engage with your audience and how your audience perceives you. This affects their opinion of your brand even before they experience your business firsthand.
In marketing, influencers are people who have the power to affect their followers’ purchasing decisions. For example, someone may decide to buy your product because their favorite YouTuber or celebrity uses it too.
But influencers can also be regular people that the consumer knows personally and trusts their word. If a friend shares a bad experience they had with a business, this helps shape the customer’s perception—even if the customer themselves enjoyed their own experience.
4. Brand Values
A 2020 study by 5W Public Relations discovered that 83 percent of millennials prioritize buying from brands that share similar values with them. So if your organization holds fast to its values and advocacies, you attract like-minded consumers.
Suppose your company states that it supports sustainability. If your products or business practices aren’t sustainable, people might perceive your brand as hypocritical.
How Do You Build Customer Perception?
So how do you manage brand perception and put your company in a better light? Here are some steps to help improve your customer’s perception of you.
1. Collect & Respond to Feedback
Collecting feedback helps your company know if your products or services meet your customer’s needs or if there’s still room for improvement. But the majority of consumers perceive brands more positively if they respond and act on the feedback provided. It helps people know that you do value your customer’s input.
2. Act in the Customer’s Best Interest
Each member of the organization plays a role in how consumers view your brand. You’ll need to pay close attention to how you treat your customers and ensure that they’re having a positive experience.
One of the best ways to do this is by building a workplace culture that lets your employees do better for the customers. For instance, you can:
- Provide training opportunities so your employees can improve their skills
- Offer benefits and incentives to avoid disgruntled staff
As a business owner, you should act in your customer’s best interests, such as responding to complaints promptly and offering to make amends when appropriate. It sets an example for the rest of the workplace to follow.
By treating your employees well, they’ll take good care of your customers too—and improve customer perception along the way.
3. Aim for Consistency
As much as possible, strive to make every experience one that reflects the core values your brand adheres to. For example, if your company values include transparency, then make sure you aren’t hiding fees from your customers. If you advocate for vegan products, your own goods shouldn’t harm any animals during production.
By consistently acting according to company values, you can help each customer build a positive perception of the business.
How Do You Measure Customer Perception?
There are multiple ways to measure a customer’s perception of your brand. Below are some surefire methods to help you understand how your brand is perceived by your customer.
- Collect customer feedback. Seeing what your customers are saying about your brand can help you to understand your business’s perception. We’ve already established that collecting customer feedback is beneficial, but how do you collect it?
- Use surveys with select questions about your brand. You can use a service to complete this or simply post a link to a survey on your social media presence.
- Request feedback on an order confirmation page. Adding a feedback form after an order can provide you with fresh insights from your customers directly after they complete their purchase.
- Review customer ratings. Reviewing and acting on customer ratings gives a second chance for businesses to improve. Responding to negative reviews can change the perception of the customer as well as other potential customers that will read it. Acknowledging positive feedback also makes customers feel heard and validated.
Customer Perception Matters
Knowing what customer perception is and why it’s important is key to building relationships with your customers and improving how the general public sees your brand. With it, you can create better products and build a more successful organization.