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What comes to your customers’ minds when they think about your brand, about your organization? What is your customer perception?
What makes your customers’ thoughts about your brand so important? What can you to influence them?
These are all immensely important questions. You will find answers to them today.
What is customer perception?
Your customer perception refers to whatever your customers think about your brand or product. Every single thought that they have about your company, brand, or product comes forms a part of your customer perception.
This means that every experience that they have with your product, whether direct or indirect, has an impact on your customer perception.
Every single thing that your company does - from the colour of your packaging to the very values that your company holds at its core - affects the perception of that your customers have of you.
But you probably have one question lurking about in your mind.
Why is customer perception so important?
The short answer?
Your company’s very existence depends on customer perception.
Want to know why?
It’s because customer perception isn’t just a short term game. It doesn’t just matter until you make a sale. Yes, it does have an effect on individual sales. But guess what, it has a major impact on long term relationships.
You need to project a consistently positive image to the world. You cannot keep changing like a chameleon.
What else does customer perception have an effect on?
The way in which consumers perceive your brand most certainly has a powerful impact on your revenue. But what else does it affect?
A negative customer perception increases churn. Why would they want to keep doing business with you if they end up thinking negatively about your organization?
On the other hand, if they anchor your brand to positive ideas, concepts and emotions, you’ve just won a lottery that keeps paying you for years on end. That is, if you maintain the this impression.
An intensely positive customer perception means that you have customers who are more than happy to do business with you. That means your customer lifetime value could very well go through the roof.
But do you know what that also means?
If your customers have a positive perception of your brand, it means that they’re going to stick around longer. But it also means that they’re going to be telling everyone in their circles about you.
They essentially become your very own, free marketing team.
David Meltzer, whom I interviewed recently, talks about Apple being at that level. And I agree with him wholeheartedly.
Apple is so good at improving their customer experience and perception that their customers literally try to sell other people on Apple products. And they’re rather passionate about it too.
What factors impact customer perception?
The usual suspects
Do your customers think your offerings are overpriced? Are the getting enough value out of them?
Having a high price doesn’t necessarily create a bad customer perception. After all, if you’re trying to sell luxury goods, a low price wouldn’t exactly be the best idea
Are you selling high quality products and services that will actually bring value to your customers for an extended period of time?
Or does your product quality infuriate your customers and make them feel like you’re simply trying to hock a substandard product?
Your branding and marketing efforts, of course, have a major impact on your customer perception.
Its what you actively do to influence their perception of you.
But these aren’t the only factors involved. And they aren’t necessarily the most powerful ones either.
The other major contributors
How smooth is your customer journey? Do your customers get their queries resolved in real-time? Are you engaging them in their own language? How much effort does it take to do business with you? Are you taking action on customer feedback?
This doesn’t just impact one customer’s perception of your organization.
It has a powerful effect on their entire social circle’s views about you. Give them one negative experience and they’re definitely going to be telling everyone about it.
And guess what.
You can’t just balance that out with one positive experience either.
Thanks to the negativity bias, you need to create multiple positive experiences in order to nullify a single negative experience.
What organizations have you partnered up with? What feelings and emotions do your customers have anchored towards them?
It has a direct correlation to their perception of your organization.
Who do you think has a better reputation - an ordinary NBA player’s trainer or Michael Jordan’s trainer?
Exactly. That’s why Tim Grover is so well known.
Your clients have a direct impact on the way your customers perceive you.
What can you do in order to understand customer perception?
To get a fair understanding of how your customers perceive your brand, you need to engage with your customers.
Here are a few ways for you to do that:
Sending out an NPS survey is an effective way to get an idea about the way in which your customers think about you.
It helps you gain a far deeper understanding of the level of customer satisfaction. It doesn’t just revolve around a singular purchase. It helps you understand their perception about your entire brand.
Product usage reports
The amount of time spent using your product, the frequency of use, the amount of bugs reported, the churn rate; all of this data helps you understand your customer perception.
If they’re leaving you quickly, you know that they don’t have a very good impression about your offerings and your brand at large.
Session recordings help you understand how your customers behave on your website.
Did they go through the entire page? Did something catch their attention? Did something turn them off?
Monitoring session recordings over a period of time and looking for deviations in behavioral trends can help you understand what parts of your website influence customer perception.
It will help you understand what your customers like about your brand and what they dislike.
Your customers are literally telling the world what they think about your brand and why. Go ahead and listen.
This can be far more powerful than a simple survey. That’s because survey answers do not always reflect the respondent’s true thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes respondents are just being nice. Sometimes they say what they think you want to hear. Sometimes they don’t say what they mean because they don’t want to deviate from what would seem like a normal response.
But on social media? That’s their brutally honest, unfiltered opinion.
That’s what’s going to help you understand your true customer perception.
It’s the same concept with the customer reviews you can find on Google, Amazon, Facebook, and pretty much all over the internet.
That’s where customers express their true opinion. Look there.
What can you do to influence or improve your customer perception?
You can, to a great extent, influence your customer perception. Here’s how you go about doing it.
1. Request reviews
Ask your customers to review you on online forums. It’s not that hard. And customers are actually rather likely to agree to it. According to Brightlocal, 86% of customers would actually consider writing a review. All you need to do is ask.
Reviews on Google, Amazon, Yelp, G2, etc. are extremely important. According to Hosting Tribunal, 89% of customers won’t make a purchase until they’ve read reviews.
That’s not just limited to online purchases. Even when it comes to in-store purchases, people are increasingly whipping their mobile phones out to hunt for reviews.
They’re so important that Sephora has made it possible for customers to pull reviews from their mobile app when they scan a product in store.
Sometimes, you may get a negative review. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
A negative review is an opportunity.
It’s an opportunity for you to take action and show the world that you care. Respond empathetically, make it clear that you care, and show them that you’re taking action to make it right.
Studies have shown that most customers don’t believe that their feedback leads to changes. This is your chance to show them that at your company, their thoughts count.
2. Demonstrate social proof
Show the world whom your clients are. Publish testimonials and case studies.
Let customers know what you’ve done for other customers and the results which they’ve gained from working with you.
Your customer perception is tied to your clientele. So make attempts to get big names on board and let them elevate your status.
3. Engage with thought leaders
These are the people who influence the industry. Their opinions matter. You need to focus on building and strengthening your relationships with them.
Here are 200 brilliant thought leaders whom you should certainly start engaging with!
4. Follow up with customers
Don’t let the relationship die after the sale. Follow up with your customers and show them that you care. Let them know that you have their backs. Make it perfectly clear that you are invested in helping them succeed.
Don’t come off as an organization that only cares about making the sale. Let your actions show that you are concerned about those who do business with you. Let it be known that your organization is committed to their success.
5. Be proactive
Don’t wait for your customers to come to you with a problem. Look for possible issues are solve them pre-emptively.
Inform your customers in advance about downtimes. They may get a bit annoyed, but its much better than the shock they would get while trying to use your services and suddenly finding out that they aren’t working.
Even if your customers haven’t noticed a problem, own up in advance and rectify the situation. This saves them the frustration of finding out on their own. But more than that, it shows them that you care.
Being proactive lets your customers know that you aren’t satisfied doing the bare minimum. It shows them that you stand for quality and are committed to doing right by them.
6. Use positive language
Sometimes you can’t do exactly what your customers want you to. But that doesn’t mean you outright say ‘No’.
As humans, we don’t like hearing the word “No”.
We’re not particularly large fans of “Can’t” and “Don’t” either.
If you use these words rampantly, you’re going to sound like you have absolutely no concern for your customers.
Look for the closest positive alternative for anything negative that you may have to say. Make it sound like you’re on their team.
7. Build deeper relationships with your customers
You need to try to connect with your customers and understand them on a deeper level. Understand what they truly want. Understand their goals. Help them get there.
Actively listen to them.
Understand the emotions at play. You’ll be able to improve your customer perception when you truly understand your customers. That’s when you will be able to give them what they want.
8. Improve the customer experience
This may very well be the most powerful way for you to improve your customer perception. And there’s a lot you could do here too. Let’s get started:
Speed up your support
Your customers don’t want to wait for 24 hours to get a reply to an email. They don’t even want to wait on hold for 5 minutes on a phone call.
The good news is that they don’t need to wait.
About 80% of the customer queries coming in can be automated. An intelligent, NLP-driven chatbot can take care of them with relative ease.
But what about the other 20%?
These are the ones that need personal attention. Automating the repetitive ones allows your human agents to handle these conversations in greater detail, with a practically non-existent waiting time.
Don’t rejoice just yet. It gets better.
With phone support, your agents can only handle one customer query at a time. Of course, this means that unless you hire more agents, the other customers have no choice but to wait.
What if you could eliminate that wait?
With Engati Live Chat, every one of your agents can converse with multiple customers simultaneously.
Now your customers realize that you actually care about their time, unlike your competitors.
No more ‘Dear valued customer’.
That phrase deserves to be buried now.
‘Dear valued customer’.... Seriously? You value me so much that you don’t even care to address me by my name?
That’s not where personalization stops, though.
Customers are willing to provide you with data. But that comes with the condition that you hyper-personalize their experience with you.
Don’t just offer them experiences curated for their demographic. Follow Amazon’s and Netlix’s example - give them an experience that is specially tailored to their preferences.
Deploying a chatbot can help here. It can employ its artificial intelligence to offer personalized service and product offerings based on context derived from past conversations that your users have had with it.
Reduce customer effort
The easier you make it for your customers to do business with you, the better their perception of your brand.
Once again, reducing customer effort makes them think you’re in it for them. It shows that you’re innovating for your customers.
Make it easier for them to reach you. Make your check out process easier. Make it easier for them to use your products.
Engage them the way the want to be served
Customer support shouldn’t be standardized.
Some customers prefer to be engaged over WhatsApp. Others prefer Messenger. Yet another group of them may prefer Telegram.
Why force them all to converse with you over just one channel?
You need to adopt an omnichannel approach.
But that’s not all.
You also need to engage your customers in the language they prefer.
Only 26% of internet users speak English. So if that’s the only language you communicate with your customers in, you’re really limiting yourself.
The choices go further.
Some customers prefer the speed of automation. Others would rather chat with a human agent. You need to engage and support them over a solution that integrates both these offerings.
Engati can help you with all these factors.
Our integrated automation + live chat model allows you to personalize your customer engagements at scale. It helps you answer all your customer queries in real-time, without any delay.
Our solution even helps you engage them over 14 chat channels, including WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, your website, and your mobile app.
And guess what, with 50+ languages supported, it empowers you to serve your customers in the language they are most comfortable with.
And here’s the kicker - you can now use Engati Live Chat with unlimited agents, free for the next 30 days. Learn more here!