A business’s success or failure is increasingly determined by customer perception. The way a customer feels about your brand plays a bigger role in consumer decision-making than the price or service provided. This means that your business success largely hinges on creating positive customer perceptions. In this guide, you will learn what customer perception is and how to improve the way customers view your business.
What is Customer Perception?
Customer perception is the way a customer views your business and products. A customer’s opinion about your business will be formed by direct and indirect experiences with your brand. Being aware of customer attitudes towards your business can help you improve your service, product, and customer journey.
Creating positive customer perceptions is essential for business success. By understanding what your customers think of you, you can make better strategic business decisions and improve the overall customer experience. Customers’ perception of your brand can impact your bottom line significantly. This means that if customers like what you offer, they are more likely to buy from you again.
Why Customer Perception Is Important
Creating positive perceptions about your business can lead to higher sales and greater profits by improving retention rates and increasing loyalty. So, if customers like what you offer, they are more likely to buy from you again!
With a large variety of competitive options available to consumers, it is not enough to have a well-known brand. The way customers feel about your business can increase brand loyalty and result in positive referrals. Likewise, negative customer perceptions can damage your brand image and drive both current and prospective customers away.
Consumers want to be associated with brands that:
- Promote values they identify with
- Are consumer-oriented
- Are trustworthy
- Display positive world views
- Make them feel good
Positive customer perceptions are built over time. As a result, it is important to focus on not just single interactions with customers but the overall experience throughout the relationship. This means that paying attention to how your business presents itself in all communications could be essential for building positive customer perceptions about your brand.
Your Customer’s Journey: 4 Stages
The customer perception process begins long before a customer actually becomes a customer. The way customers feel about your brand during the customer journey will significantly affect their decision-making process and customer behavior.
There are four stages to the customer journey:
1. Awareness Stage
Perception occurs during this stage, when customers first hear about your brand from friends or family, social media posts, ads, etc. Your marketing strategy could help shape customer awareness of your product or service in a positive way.
2. Consideration Stage
At this point, you want to make it as easy as possible for your target market to find out more information about what you offer. Customers may not be ready to purchase from you yet, but you will want to build a positive customer perception so that they feel confident making a purchase in the future.
3. Purchase Decision Stage
Once your customer is ready to buy, provide customer reviews for them so that they can read others’ experiences with your business. If customers see many satisfied customer reviews and customer stories about your business on your site, this will help to shape their customer perception.
4. Long-Term Relationship Stage
The relationship between your company and customer continues long after the sale has been made or service has been rendered. You must continue building customer trust by behaving ethically and adding value to their lives. When a customer’s values align with those of a brand, they are more likely to continue buying from them.
Customer perception is formed at different points along the customer journey. In today’s complex world, customers may have a multi-channel buying experience before they even engage with your brand. Customers now conduct research online before contacting a business and making a purchase. Each stage of this journey may influence how a customer perceives your brand.
Factors Affecting Customer Perception
Influencing a customer’s perception is a lot more complex than displaying a clever advertisement. Customer perception is formed by internal (dictated by personal convictions) and external influences. Here are 7 important factors that shape customer perception.
Marketing refers to the overall way your brand is portrayed through advertisements, websites, social media posts, events, and public relations. Make sure these aspects are in alignment. All platforms should convey the same message and portray what you want the public to know and feel about your brand.
The content of your marketing is equally important. Customers will interpret and relate certain messages differently, depending on their values and attitudes. By maintaining a consistent tone in all messaging, you can avoid confusing or alienating customers.
Culture & Values
A customer’s perception is greatly affected by the way your brand behaves. A customer’s views of your organization are influenced by their experiences with customer service, products, and policies. Make sure that you are transparent with customers about how you do business.
Price affects customer perception in several ways. While cost can determine whether or not a customer purchases from you, keeping prices affordable may reduce customer’s perception of value. The customer experience can help counterbalance any negative perception about price and cost.
The customer experience is more important than ever. It’s essential to go above and beyond with customer service. This may include scheduling customer appointments for convenience, delivering quality products, and offering top-notch customer service, among others.
Trust & Security
When your customer feels that you are trustworthy, they will be more willing to buy from you or respond positively to marketing messaging. This means making it easy for consumers to find the information they need to make an informed buying decision. If you have customer reviews or customer stories on your site, they will help you build customer trust. Suppose a customer trusts that you provide quality products, value their business, value transparency, and customer service. In that case, they will be more likely to form a positive customer perception of your business.
Customer Loyalty & Referrals
Building positive customer perception can result in increased customer loyalty and referrals. This is because happy customers are more likely to advocate for your business by publicizing their great experiences with your brand on social media, word of mouth, or via customer reviews.
Influencers can include peers, family, and business networks. Influencer marketing also includes what strangers or prominent figures say on social media and in public reviews. This information can affect customer perception. Social media influencers can be incredibly impactful because their opinions are given more weight by other customers who may not know the brand as well.
Brand performance consistency
If your brand has a history of requiring a financial bail-out, customers might not want to use your services for fear of losing their money. The same applies to any scandal associated with your brand. Bouncing back from a bad brand image can cause the company a lot of money, time, and effort.
Being able to tap into a consumer’s emotional needs will create a deeper connection with the client. This often leads to brand loyalty and customers who advocate for your business. Emotional connections can be enhanced through specific marketing messages relating to consumer identity, priorities, and concerns. Pleasant relationships with staff and making clients feel appreciated will also develop an emotional connection to your brand.
Customer support can make or break your brand. Even if a client feels positive about your brand, consistently poor customer support can change their perception. Likewise, if you excel in customer support, clients will often be willing to pay more for your services and remain loyal to your brand.
Building a Positive Reputation
Customer service plays an important role in customer perceptions. This includes tracking customer interactions and offering support across different service channels. Businesses should provide customers with access to customer service representatives via email, social media, or other modes of communication so that customers can have questions or concerns addressed quickly.
For customer feedback to determine how your business is portrayed online, companies should encourage customer testimonials and reviews. Posting these positive customer experiences on your site can help reinforce what you’re doing right.
Creating a Customer-Centric Culture
Businesses should also be customer-centric by responding to customer reviews. Public customer reviews are taken very seriously online since they influence your business’s customer behavior and customer perceptions.
Customer perception has a powerful effect on customers’ buying decisions. By encouraging positive customer experiences, businesses can establish trust with their target audience and prevent customer churn.
The more customers feel like you respect them and value their loyalty, the better the customer perception will be about your business. Now that you know what customer perception is and how it affects customers, you can improve how customers perceive your company!
What Is The Effect Of A Negative Customer Perception?
A customer’s perception of your business is important for building customer trust and loyalty, ultimately affecting customer retention rates and sales revenue.
Here’s why a negative customer perception is harmful to any business:
It alienates potential customers and weakens customer relationships.
If a customer has a negative experience with your company, they will likely tell others about it, which could prevent them from returning. This also applies to online reviews and social media posts.
It results in fewer customer referrals
Fewer customer referrals could negatively impact customer acquisition rates. Lowered brand authority means that customer acquisition will be more expensive and difficult to achieve.
It decreases customer conversion rates.
If a customer has a negative customer perception of your company, they are less likely to buy from you or continue using your services. This also applies to online reviews and social media posts.
It lower customer satisfaction rates
Customers who have been mistreated by your company won’t feel satisfied using your products or services. This can lead to higher customer churn rates, especially if other customers read these negative customer experiences.
It decreases revenue
When a customer feels disrespected or ignored by a business, they’ll be much less likely to buy from them in the future. If there is a high cost associated with customer acquisition for your business, customer churn rates will decrease your customer pool, resulting in lost revenue.
Customer Perception Questions To Consider
What is the tone of your marketing messages? Are they consistent? Do they portray what you want the public to know about your brand? How does this impact customer perception?
Are you transparent with customers about how you do business (policies, prices, etc.)? How might this impact customer perception?
Do customer reviews affect your customer perception? Are customer testimonials posted on your site and other customer forums? What impact do these customer experiences have on customer perception?
Is there a positive or negative trend in customer reviews for your business? How might that impact customer perception of your company’s service quality and customer satisfaction rates?
What steps is your company taking to address the concerns/complaints of current customers? How about those who have stopped doing business with you?
How does this improve customer perception about your company, both from those who are still customers as well as those who have left their employment with you?
What is your customer’s perception of quality? Do they feel like products and services are of high quality? How can you improve customer perception of these factors? What is your customer’s perception of your service? Do they think customer support is courteous and prompt? How can you improve customer perception of your customer service?
7 Strategies to Develop a Positive Customer Perception
If you consider the factors influencing client opinions and how they relate to your business, you can develop a strategy to boost positive customer perception. Here are 7 strategies you can implement to boost customer perception about your brand, service, or product.
1. Deliver on your promises
Always make sure products and services deliver what you have promised the client. By saying you will provide certain product functions and services, you create client expectations. Make sure you can meet these expectations.
2. Improve your communication
When dealing with clients, show empathy, give them your full attention and listen. Make sure they feel you have heard what they have to say and respond positively. Do not give your customers excuses. Give them solutions. This will require urgency, knowledge, and proactive staff engagement.
3. Engage in social media
Social media provides an incredible platform to showcase positive aspects of your brand. It also offers you the opportunity to respond to negative comments in a way that will restore a positive brand identity.
4. Provide convenience
If customers can quickly engage with and obtain information about your product or service, you will eliminate frustration and prevent customers from going elsewhere. A product or service that is quick and efficient to access shows the customer that you value their time and are willing to put in the effort from your side.
5. Improve your employee culture and training
Creating a positive customer perception about your brand starts within your company. Ensure that your entire staff complement from executive to ground level adopts a customer-centric culture. Reward staff for displaying these company values. You may have to invest in staff training to optimize your customer service and people interactions.
6. Connect with customers
Understand your customers’ emotional needs and demonstrate how your company meets these needs. Show customers that you are interested in a long-term business relationship with them and value positive customer experiences.
7. Collect and analyze customer feedback
The only way to know what your customers want and what they think about your business is by gaining their feedback. Whether good or bad, getting feedback shortly after a client interaction provides the opportunity to:
- Rectify a poor customer experience and restore a positive customer perception
- Make your client feel respected and that you value their opinion
- Adapt areas of your customer journey that can positively impact customer perceptions in the future
Customer perceptions are formed based on customer interactions with your brand. Implement these customer perception development strategies to make customer interactions positive ones that resonate in their memories. You can also use customer surveys to determine what your customers want and how you can improve customer perception of your product or service.
Even when unexpected events cause negative customer perceptions, rise to the challenge and win back unhappy customers. When customers feel valued and see the effort you are willing to put in to fix their negative experience, they can often turn out to be the most loyal customers.
CustomersFirst Academy offers comprehensive customer service training designed to help you grow your skills and advance your career.
To keep learning and developing your knowledge of customer service, we highly recommend the additional resources below:
ARPU Explained: How to Calculate and Interpret Average Revenue Per User
6 Steps to Create a Customer First Business Strategy
What Does it mean to be Customer Oriented?
An Essential Guide to Proactive Customer Service