Customer perception is how your customers interpret your brand. It’s the image that your customers have in their head when they think of you. While you have direct control over many aspects of your customer’s perception, there are many more factors that you have very little control over. Your competition, reviewers, news outlets, and social media influencers can all affect the perception of your customers.
The story is probably familiar to all of you. You release a product into the wild, and everything seems to be going well until you receive your first less than stellar review. Maybe it’s a from a YouTube influencer who has 30k+ followers. This situation has the potential to cost you customers and money if you fail to act.
So what can you do?
Managing customer perception has become a complicated job, but it’s not impossible. There are many tools available today to help you understand and react to changes in your customers’ perception of your brand. This article will provide you with a few of those tools, but first, let’s look at the history of customer perception so we can figure out how we got to where we are.
Customer Perception: A Brief History
Before the internet, controlling what the population thought of your brand was simple in comparison to today. The channels for gaining information about a product were limited to television commercials, word of mouth, magazine ads, and packaging at the store. Whatever you decided to use as a marketing message would be the message that your customers heard.
If one customer had a negative experience with your brand the number of people they could tell about it was limited as well. Information at this time took lots of resources to disseminate and being heard by a large portion of the population was reserved for those who had money and power. Think of any scene out of Mad Men with Don Draper at his desk, lucky strike in hand and a glass of whiskey, brainstorming a new marketing campaign for a client. All he has to do is craft the perfect brand message for it to affect customer perception positively. His only worry is competition from other brands, which of the four TV channels to run it on, and his budget. Ah, the good ol’ days.
Today, carrying out customer surveys and market research is cheap and easy. The internet has allowed for an unprecedented level of communication between consumers and the companies that they buy from. This means with a little effort you can get a near real-time picture of what your customers are thinking, feeling, and saying about your brand. With the right tools, you can compile more information about your customers than ever before, allowing you to gain a better understanding of how to change their perceptions of your brand in positive ways.
At the same time, controlling customer perception has become more challenging each year. Your corporate voice is just one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of voices in the turbulent sea of opinions we call the internet. While managing customer perception might seem like a daunting task, there are things you can be doing today to help your brand.
Measuring and Managing Customer Perception
Explain why staying on top of your customers’ perception is so important. Talk about why with modern technology it is possible to measure and manage your customers’ perception with only one or two people. Explain that the below are tips.
1- Reviews, Reviewers, and Influencers: If you come across a negative review of your product, it’s a good idea to respond to it. Try to see if there’s some way that you can proactively resolve the issue and win that customer. If you make a habit of responding to customer complaints not only will you retain more loyal customers, you’ll show new customers that you’re responsive and trustworthy. Reach out to the influencers in your market to discover the opinions their followers have about your brand. These individuals can be great allies in your effort to better understand your customers.
Another good place to look is forums if you find that your customers are asking questions make sure that you’re one of the ones answering them. Responding to your customers on a personal level is time-consuming, but worth it.
2- Sign up for Alerts: Knowing when and where someone is mentioning your brand is vital if you want to stay on top of your customer perception. Google Alerts is one way to do this. All you have to do is enter the keywords in that you would like to track, and whenever they are mentioned, you are alerted. This tool is great because it’s easy to use and can give you time to react to potential issues. You can also use tools like Social Mention to alert you in the same way for social media mentions.
3- Surveying Customers: Surveys have become incredibly easy to design and implement. Tools like Typeform, Google Surveys, and Survey Monkey make it easy to learn exactly what your customers’ perceptions of you are. If you create and distribute your surveys all this will cost you is time, but the information you will gain is invaluable.
4- Responding to Social Media: Beyond just monitoring what people are saying about you on social media, you need to become part of the conversation. Don’t limit yourself to damage control either. If a customer says something positive about you thank them. It might sound like a simple concept, but it is often overlooked even by big brands. You can’t forget that your customers are humans, and humans crave communication and recognition. With the right software, this task can be managed one or two people in your organization.
Managing and measuring customer perception has come a long way. Knowing what your customers are thinking, feeling, and saying about your brand is more important than ever. Fortunately, the tools to monitor customer perception are readily available and easy to use. So, find where your customers are talking and make sure that you’re part of the conversation.