Customer perception definition: “Marketing concept that encompasses a customer’s impression, awareness, or consciousness about a company or its offerings.”
Customer collects information about a product and interprets the information to make a meaningful image about a particular product. This is called as customer perception. When a customer sees advertisements, promotions, customer reviews, social media feedback, etc. relating to a product, they develop an impression about the product.
The entire process of customer perception starts when a consumer sees or gets information about a particular product. This process continues until the consumer starts to build an opinion about the product.
Everything that a company does affects customer perception. The way the products are positioned in a retail store, the colors, and shapes in your logo, the advertisements that you create, the discounts that you offer, everything impacts the customer perception.
For example, Avon uses a pink color with white and black accents. This color predominantly attracts women while men feel alienated by pink color. The customer perception is built based on the colors used in the logo.
But if a product is trying to attract both men and women, using just pink might not be a good idea.
Why is Customer Perception Important?
A happy customer is one who is satisfied with the experience that he has with a product or a service. The customer perception is built around the experience that a customer has with a product.
Consumer perception can make or break your brand. When customers had a pleasant experience of getting their products delivered on time they form a perception. Getting the products that were as described in the product description also creates a positive customer perception. When customers experienced a great after-sale service it is going to develop a positive opinion about the brand.
But when customers had a bad experience such as broken products, no returns, no after-sales service, etc. the customers build a negative perception about the brand.
When companies work towards strengthening the bond between customers and the company, customer perception improves, and this gives way for a better competitive edge.
Customer perception is also important to determine the kind of image a brand wants to build.
For example, when a retail clothing store has displayed clothes in crowded racks using low quality plastic hangers, customers get a perception that it is a low-quality brand. But when the same clothes are presented well with back-lit mannequins, neatly arranged, good quality attractive hangers, etc. the customers build a different perception about the brand.
Customer perception or consumer perception plays a major role in buying behavior. Hence companies are going the extra mile to create a pleasant and happy customer experience for its customers. Companies are ready to spend money and effort to influence customer perception and drive profitable consumer behavior.
What are the Factors Influencing Customer Perception?
Customer perception can be influenced by external factors, some of which are listed below:
1. Personal experience
Customer perception is highly influenced by the personal experience that a customer had while buying and using a particular product. If the quality, customer service, price, logo, color, discounts, etc. were able to make an excellent impression on the minds of the customers, they would build a good perception of the brand. But in case they did not enjoy the experience with the brand, it will leave an everlasting impression.
Customers get to see the products first through advertisements and therefore become one of the biggest factors that influence customer perception. The advertisement and campaigns that a company runs will help to build a positive customer perception.
People generally buy things when another person has tried and tested it. Such people who have bought it first and tried the product become influencers. When people hear about the great product that the influencer has tried out, it will influence the person to buy it and test it out, as the recommendation has come from a known person whom they trust.
4. Customer reviews
Many people look into the customer reviews before buying a product. This shows that customer reviews are an important factor in defining customer perception. If the consumers see that a product has a lower number of stars it means that product does not have good customer reviews. The impression that it creates on the consumer’s mind is negative.
5. Social Media
Social media has become the strongest medium to manage customer perception. When social media audience gets consistent communication regarding a product, the users build an image of the product. Social media can be used to post content, images, videos, etc. which helps to build the kind of perception intended by the company.
How to Measure Customer Perception
Customer perception is not a mystery!
Brands can monitor and measure perception by investing a little time and using smart tools and techniques.
Customer perception, when measured, provides a stream of valuable consumer insights. When a brand conducts deep dive and measures customer perception, It unlocks behind-the-scenes of how customers look at your brand. You can see how customers engage with and react to your brand.
So how do companies monitor and measure consumer perception when they’re looking at it from behind the scenes?
1. Analyzing Website Traffic:
Your website has hidden truths about how customer perceive your brand. Analyzing your website traffic gives insights into customer perception. But its important to look for clues in the right places.
Free tools like Google Analytics can be used to analyze your website. Start by looking into basic details:
- How many customers typed your company URL in the search bar?
- Who have clicked an email that you had sent?
- Are there any customers who downloaded your documents?
Analyze the trend of user behavior on your website by answering these questions. It allows you to identify if there is any change overtime in brand perception.
2. Online Customer Reviews:
72% of customers won’t take action until they read reviews.
You realize how big an impact customer reviews can have om customer perception. Good reviews can create a positive customer perception. Therefore, companies resort to customer reviews to measure customer perception.
There are a lot of product review sites like G2Crowd , Yelp, AppExchange, Angie’s List, Salesforce, etc. that have a huge database of customer feedback. Your customers are potentially looking at the reviews before deciding to buy your products.
Set up Google alerts that can notify you when reviews are posted. In this way you can immediately know what customers are talking about your product and measure the positive or negative perception that is created in the mind of the potential customers.
3. Analyzing Social Media Conversations:
This is one of the most effective methods to measure customer perception. Social media conversations are a great start to see what people are talking about your brand. Consumers of products and services are all over the internet and are using social media to express their experiences, liking or hatred towards a brand.
When business or brands start tracking brand mentions it can lead to a collection of honest feedback. It will give insights into what customers feel about your brand, opportunities to manage your brand reputation, and an understanding around how consumers interact with your brand’s products or services.
For example, Clootrack analyzed social media conversations of the top US hotels. Through a detailed analysis of 40,338 traveler and guest conversations, Clootrack created a list of the customer perception drivers that visitors considered before booking a hotel room. Social media conversations are an excellent means of measuring customer perceptions.
Perception is the reality!!
You may know it or not, your company already has a perception. But most important is whether it is working in your favor or against you.
Do you know how customers perceive your brand today? If you measure it and become aware of how your brand is perceived, you can work towards improving it or fixing it for a better tomorrow.