Customer perception is tough to measure because it’s usually comprised of both qualitative and subjective data. You can’t just count ‘customer perceptions’ in the same way you can other KPIs; you must be clever about how you do it.
In short, there are two ways to find out how customers perceive your business:
1. Ask them
2. Observe and listen to them
In this article, we’ll explore how you can measure consumer perceptions with both methods, as well as how to use behavioral data to help you form better questions.
Ask Your Customer What They Think
Often, the easiest way to find out what someone thinks is to ask them. There are, of course, lots of reasons why they might not tell you the truth — but it’s the quickest way to establish a starting point.
Here are some of the best ways to measure customer perception using this method.
Customer Satisfaction Scoring
Scoring methods like CSat and Net Promoter Scores are tried and tested tools that all brands should be using. They help you gather specific information about your customer experience and can quickly tell you where you’re failing to deliver.
If you do not have access to these tools, consider using a post-sale customer satisfaction survey. This is the bare minimum standard and best practice for businesses just starting in this area. For the best results, include ways for customers to express their satisfaction at every contact point.
These don’t need to be complicated surveys — quite the opposite. Include simple scoring scales so they can complete the survey quickly and with ease. But make sure that you mix in open-ended questions so that customers can give you detailed feedback.
Psychographic data, sometimes known as, “attitudinal data”, refers to information about people’s desires, goals, interests, values, and lifestyle. It’s used to build a more complete understanding of your audience.
An example of a ‘psychographic’ survey question might be:
Question: Which of the following attributes do you possess?
- I’m creative
- I’m affluent
- I’m adventurous
- I’m athletic
- I’m intelligent
These are important to brand perception because your brand will be viewed differently by different demographics and audiences. This kind of data is invaluable when creating a consumer-centric business.
Brand Perception Surveys
Brand perception surveys usually include psychographic questions but will focus on determining specific relationships and associations customers may have about your brand.
This could be something like, “X Brand is more luxurious than Y Brand” or “X Brand Has Better Service than Y Brand”.
The best way to do these kinds of surveys is through a third-party, so as not to bias the outcome.
Focus Groups and Forums
Focus groups are an incredibly useful way of collecting customer perception data, particularly when exploring the viability of a new product. Of course, issues often arise when you put a group of strangers in a room together — you might not always get an accurate answer!
Issues often arise when you put a group of strangers in a room together — you might not always get an accurate answer. Make sure you get professional help doing research. #brandperception Click To Tweet
That said, most third-party research companies have ways of mitigating this to help you to get a clearer understanding of what your customers think about your new product or brand.
Observing and Listening to Customers
My grandmother would frequently lean on Epictetus’ wisdom and exclaim: “You have two ears and only one mouth. So, shut up and listen.” Your brand should approach customer perception research in the same way.
This kind of passive listening used to be much more difficult, but the internet has made it a very fruitful exercise. Here’s how to listen to your customers.
Listen to What Customers Say
Customers have been telling you what they think of your brand all along — via your customer service departments. Most companies view their contact centers as a loss-driver but they’re wrong. Your contact center is a gold mine of behavioral data about your customers.
Make active listening part of your company values. Train your support agents to take down notes about how customers talk about your company and their experience.
If you can, automate it: Voice AI is now at the stage where it can gather ‘user sentiment’ data by analyzing voice tone and language customers use while they’re talking to an agent.
We’re social creatures; people want to be listened to. If you show them that you value their feedback, you’ll win their loyalty for life. Just remember: To be a good active listener, you must act upon what’s being said!
Listen for Brand Mentions on the Internet
Another method is listening to customer chatter online. We’re not advocating spying on your customers — just paying attention to what they’re saying publicly.
Here’s how to listen for customer perceptions on the internet:
1. Social Media
People post comments about brands constantly on social media — at least 2 million times a day. Most customers — especially younger customers — use social media to get a ‘clear view’ of how a brand treats its customers.
Responding to messages and service requests on social media quickly is essential — everyone can see what you’re doing. This can help improve customer perceptions of your brand.
You can't just count 'customer perceptions' in the same way you can other KPIs; you must be clever about how you do it. #customerperception Click To Tweet
If you want to measure what people already think of your company, track mentions of your brand across all the social platforms. There are plenty of tools that will help you achieve this while analyzing the data. These programs will also give you demographic and behavioral data, which you can use to help target certain groups in the future.
2. Mentions in publications
People also talk about your brand in online publications such as personal or business blogs and news articles. The best way to find out what they’re saying is to sign up for Google Alerts.
To use it, enter your brand name and any other keywords people use when talking about your company. Then, Google will notify you when someone posts something containing your brand name or those keywords and show you where it is on the internet. This is a great way to resolve customer service complaints before they turn into a media storm. It’s also a great way to track down your biggest fans.
Using Behavioral Data to Find the Right Questions
One frequently forgotten method of determining customer perception is studying their interactions with your products or services. This is particularly useful for businesses with digital assets, like a blog and email list, connected to a CRM.
We're social creatures; people want to be listened to. If you show them that you value their feedback, you'll win their loyalty for life. Click To Tweet
Most marketers use this data to group customers into interest groups to learn their unique pain points and offer more relevant content. This information can also be used to create the right questions, so you can find out what your customers think of you.
For example: Pretend you’re running a business selling baby equipment and accessories online, along with a successful blog with articles focused on supporting new parents.
When examining your data, you notice that a large portion of your readers are men looking for articles on how to clothe a baby — and surprisingly, very few women are doing the same. Now you have a focal point for research; a question that needs answering, “Why don’t women read our baby fashion blogs?”
Armed with that question, you can use surveys and focus groups to find the answer. In this case, let’s say your research and findings conclude that women in your readership don’t view you as a fashion leader and look to other influencers in the space for this advice instead.
With this knowledge, you’re now empowered to go about changing customer perceptions of your business.