When was the last time you checked what your customers were saying and writing about your business? In a world ruled by social media and reviews shared by the hundreds, a single negative opinion that goes viral can even destroy your brand. And that doesn’t depend on how well you offer your products or services: maybe the customer had a bad experience one day or thought your marketing was too sexist.
Customer perception is the name given to people’s opinions and feelings about your brand. Even if they approved your product and had an overall good experience, their “perception” is also based on how they view your brand and its principles. As customers don’t perceive brands negatively for anything, let’s analyze some reasons they may see a brand or business a certain way and how you can change those perceptions for the better.
Measuring Brand Perception
Recently, a big retail clothing store discovered that customers had the perception that their products were of poor quality because the stores displayed the clothes on racks using low-quality plastic hangers. The company decided to change the presentation and exhibited the same clothes using back-lit mannequins and good quality hangers, also changing consumers’ negative perceptions.
Understanding exactly what goes on in the minds of consumers or customers can be challenging, which is why it is so important to measure your brand perception. Here are some ways you can do it:
- Identify your target audience and try to speak directly to these consumers (and listen to them as well).
- Conduct customer surveys, online or in person, at different times of the customer journey, to measure their perception of your brand, your ads, your stores, and their satisfaction with your product after purchase.
- Read what people write about your business on reviews like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Yellowpages.
- Likewise, encourage satisfied customers to share their opinions on those sites.
- Track people’s interactions with your business’s posts on social media.
- Invest in intelligent marketing strategies to engage your target audience and influence their consumer perception – try to use AR Print Ads instead of traditional advertising, for example.
- Sign up for Google Alerts, which periodically monitors the web looking for mentions of your brand or business (way easier than trying to do it yourself).
- Always talk to your employees, as they are the ones who receive most of the insights from consumers in real-time.
Okay, so you’ve been reading your customers’ comments and posts for a while and you’ve been spotting some troubling trends. And now? Maybe some consumers may have preconceived notions about your brand that will need to change with more or less work.
Customer perception is often influenced by the direct interactions people have with your company. In an Internet-driven world, however, indirect factors can also impact the way potential customers view a business: posts on social media, online reviews, the opinion of influencers, etc. The most common preconceived notions involve prices, the quality of the product or service, and the way your company does marketing (to whom it is directed, what it says, etc.)
Changing the negative way some people view your brand or business is not always easy, but here are some habits you need to integrate to try to do so:
- Provide the best customer support by always being there for your clients (before, during, and after their purchase).
- Make it a habit to respond to consumer comments or questions on social media – even with a simple happy emoji.
- In case you come across a negative review or angry post, respond politely and try to show that the bad experience was just a sad exception and that you’re doing everything to improve.
- Fight back by sharing good reviews or favorable opinions from well-known influencers when a negative review stands out too much.
- Contact your customers periodically by email or phone to see if they are satisfied with your products or services.
- Support social causes because many consumers opt for socially responsible companies.
- In the case of a negative review that goes viral, it may be necessary to completely refresh your branding by changing your logo, slogan, target audience, etc.
Listen to What Your Customers are Saying
According to a recent survey, 91% of consumers between 18 and 34 year-olds can completely change their view of a brand or company based solely on online reviews from complete strangers. There are two ways to approach this situation: pretend nothing happens, ignore bad reviews, or invest in ways to change customer perception.
It plays an important role in customer loyalty and retention, so you already know which option to choose. The bottom line is: always speak and listen to your customers to understand how they see your business. That way, you also get valuable insights into where you need to improve.