How to measure and influence customer perception

You know how you want your customers to feel about your brand, but do you really know how they feel?

Your brand’s success hinges on customer perception. The way customers perceive your brand affects everything from customer acquisition to retention, sales, and your bottom line. It’s essential to understand customer perception, know how to measure it, and learn how to shape it to improve customer perception for your brand's success.

What is customer perception?

Customer perception is the way your customers feel about your product or brand. It’s completely subjective and varies from customer to customer. Before customers even engage with your brand or product for the first time, they have formed an idea of what they would like their experience with it to be. Their expectations may be driven by reviews, internal beliefs, advertising, or other influences.

Customer perception encompasses customers' opinions, feelings, and beliefs about your brand, and it’s critical to make that perception positive. 

You may know what you’d like your customers’ perception of your brand to be, but do you know how they really feel? Many brands make the mistake of thinking they know the customer perception of their brands, but unless you follow through with measuring perceptions, you won’t know for sure. Moving forward without understanding how your customers feel about your brand could be a costly mistake.

As an example, Nike customers perceive the brand as the elite provider of athletic shoes and sportswear. That perception works in Nike’s favor because it aligns with its brand image and values.

Importance of customer perception

Customers have expectations of your brand, product, or service, which are directly linked to their perception. This means that each time a customer encounters your brand, the experience needs to meet their expectations to ensure that their perception is positive.

If customer perception is positive, it will likely influence the customer to feel that your values are aligned with theirs and that they can trust your brand to meet their needs and expectations. They will be more likely to choose your brand over the competition and recommend it to others. These behaviors, in turn, influence your overall brand health and bottom line.

Influencing factors

Customer perceptions of your brand are influenced by several factors. You should be mindful of these factors and how they affect your customers and your brand.

Customer reviews

Both positive and negative reviews play a part in determining how customers perceive your brand. Often, online reviews are your customers’ first impression of your business and will play a part in whether or not they choose to do business with you. You should be monitoring your customer reviews, tracking the feedback you receive in them, and responding appropriately.

Marketing

Review your marketing metrics, such as email open and marketing message click-through rates, to evaluate whether your current strategies are working. If they are, customer perception is likely positive. In cases where one or more customer segments are underperforming, explore those segments with further market research to find out why and how you can improve to meet their needs.

Brand values

Customers want to do business with brands that have values that resemble their own. Make your values known on your website and social media, and stay true to them. For example, if your values indicate that you are dedicated to being eco-friendly, make sure your actions align with your values. Your customers will notice and have a more positive perception of your brand.

Customer service

Great customer service shows your customers that you value them and want them to have a positive experience with your brand. On the other hand, poor customer service suggests you don’t care enough to provide good support. Invest in training and encourage a customer-centric culture for your customer support employees, which will improve the quality of care provided to your customers and make for happier employees, too.

Past experiences

Every time a customer interacts with your brand, you have another opportunity to impact how they feel about your company. Consistently positive experiences lead to customer loyalty, which wouldn’t happen without a positive customer perception.

Price

Price is almost always a factor in a purchase decision. Prices that are much higher or lower than the competition can affect the perception of your brand. Refer to your market research and incorporate strategic pricing practices based on competitor pricing, your financial needs, and the overall market. Our price testing survey template is a helpful tool for understanding how customers feel about your pricing. 

Quality

Product quality can influence a customer’s perception of your brand. When your product meets and exceeds expectations, customers feel they received a positive experience.

Word-of-mouth

Whether it’s a recommendation from your brother-in-law or a feel-good Facebook post about your participation in a charitable event, word-of-mouth can influence the perception of your brand. That’s why an investment in making each customer experience great is worth it.

Measuring customer perception

What is the current customer perception of your brand? Start with our brand perception survey to gauge your starting point and begin brand tracking, measuring the perception of your brand to understand impact of various efforts and trends over time. Then considering adding these other helpful tools to gain insight into how your customers feel.

Customer loyalty via Net Promoter Score® (NPS) surveys

Determine customer loyalty by calculating your NPS score with SurveyMonkey. The survey methodology is based on asking your customers a single question that will predict whether they will purchase from you again and if they will recommend your brand to others. The data you collect is quantifiable, standardized, and benchmarkable. NPS surveys are the gold standard for measuring customer loyalty. 

Customer experience

Customer experience (CX) metrics provide a picture of how your customers perceive your company as a result of all of their interactions with your team and your products over the course of the customer relationship. This data can be easily collected through a customer experience survey. Our CX survey template is fully customizable, so feel free to tailor it to make it your own based on your needs.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

Customer satisfaction is vital in gaining positive customer perceptions. There are several ways to boost customer satisfaction, including:

  • Making sure information is clearly available on your website
  • Using a FAQ section to make answers easily accessible to customers
  • Emphasizing the importance of customer satisfaction to your employees 
  • Providing consistently excellent customer experiences

Find out how satisfied your customers are and where you have room for improvement by starting with our customer satisfaction survey template.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

Consider your own recent customer experiences with customer service. It’s probably safe to say that some were better than others—and that some of the best ones were those where your questions or problems were taken care of quickly and easily—you might even say effortless. 

The customer effort score measures the success of a single interaction with a customer. You may have received this type of survey question after a customer service experience with a company. Customers who report a low level of effort (high level of ease) are more likely to repurchase products from the business—and even spend more.

Monitor social mentions

Customers use review sites and social media to share their feelings and experiences with brands. You should be monitoring the sites your target audience uses for those social mentions and responding to questions or issues in a timely manner. Track both positive and negative mentions and use the information to dig deeper into any problems.

Interview customers

Of course, the best way to find out customer information is to ask them! Find out how they feel about your brand and delve into their attitudes and behaviors. The more information you have directly from your customers, the better you can prepare to influence their perception of your brand.

How to influence customer perception

Once you’ve measured customer perception of your brand, it’s time to work on positively influencing these perceptions. As we’ve discussed, customer experience is critical to customer perception of your brand, so it should be no surprise that improving experience is the key to enhancing perception. The following tips will show you how to improve customer perception.

Respond to and act on feedback

You’ve collected the data, but it’s not valuable unless it’s used to create action. When you ask your customers for feedback, they feel valued, but you may feel the backlash if no action is taken on the input. We aren’t saying you need to take every suggestion, but if several customers express the same concern, there’s a good chance you need to give it some attention.

Remember, customer opinions will change over time, as will their needs. Monitor feedback periodically to stay on top of what your customers want and need from your company.

Know your audience

It would be wonderful if your brand appealed to all audiences, but it would also be unrealistic. That’s why you have identified your target market and customer segments. Use the data you’ve collected to understand who you’re marketing to and what will appeal to them.

Demonstrate your knowledge of your customers by personalizing your marketing efforts. This shows that you know your customers well, and they can trust you to deliver what they need.

Reward customer-centric behavior

Every interaction with your brand influences customer perception. Build a customer-centric culture that empowers your employees to act in your customers’ best interests. Recognize and reward customer-centric behaviors that set a good example for others. Provide employees with opportunities for growth, pay them well, and treat them with respect. That respect will be reflected in the way they interact with customers. In other words, treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers.

Be consistent

To ensure consistency in the customer experience, establish your company’s core values. These values will serve as a framework for all customer interactions. For example, your core values may include:

  • Deliver excellent service for every customer, every time
  • Be the one who drives change
  • Pursue learning and growth
  • Have fun
  • Build honest, positive relationships with your team

By consistently demonstrating your core values throughout all interactions, customers will learn to expect a particular level of service quality from your brand. You can have some flexibility around the application of your values, but the core beliefs should stay true.

Share customer success stories

If you receive an excellent review from a customer, share it on social media, your website, and other channels that potential new customers will see. Reading reviews is an integral part of the customer journey, so make it easy for them by sharing reviews—with your thanks and links to your website attached.

Provide excellent customer support

Consistent excellent customer support is vital to your customer perception. Below are a few tips on setting up your customer service team for success:

  • Training, beginning at onboarding and continuing throughout their employment, that teaches a variety of necessary skills for handling customer requests, inquiries, and complaints
  • Use role-playing in training to practice interactions and gain confidence
  • Allow employees to share experiences that went well or ask advice for those interactions that didn’t go as planned
  • Use secret shoppers to gauge the current customer experience
  • Provide surveys to customers to rate their customer support experience
  • Reward employees for embodying the brand’s core values

Apply research to product development

Now that you know how your customers feel about your brand, you are better equipped to meet their needs with your products and services. You can use your collected data to inform upgrades to existing products, add features, enhance usability, or launch new products to meet an unmet need your customers have revealed.

Customer perception counts

What your customers think of your brand matters. Measure and then improve your customer perception with our market research solutions, including Usage & Attitudes surveys, to build long-lasting relationships with your customers and improve how the world sees your brand.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. 

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