Managing customer perceptions and expectations is one of the most essential components of a successful customer service department.
To do this, you need to understand what factors affect customer perceptions. Everything and anything from your products to brand voice and color will impact how customers feel about your business.
To make things simpler, we’re going to focus on the following three types of influence:
- Personal experience
- Social cues
Personal experience is a key factor
The biggest influence on consumer perceptions is their experience with your company.
This covers everything from the quality of service they receive to the value that they feel that they get from your product or service.
Consistency also plays a big part here. How your company has performed in the past has an impact on everything that happens now.
The fact is that all the marketing and positive reviews in the world count for little. If your customers have a very poor experience with your company, the chances of them staying a customer are slim.
Here are some factors that influence customers’ experience with your brand:
Price is, of course, key in consumer decision-making but is not as important as you may think. And lower is not always better. You need to carefully price your products to reflect on how you want customers to perceive them: Are they cheap-and-cheerful or high-end luxury?
Quality is difficult to define and can apply to various aspects of your company. They’ll also vary from customer to customer.
Remember that the customer experience doesn't end when you make the sale. How you treat your customers after they've coughed up the cash is just as important as pre-sale! #cx #brandperception Click To Tweet
The key is determining what your target customer base perceives as the most important.
Level of service
How you treat your customers throughout pre and post-sale will play a large part in whether they come back. Everybody likes to be treated with respect — especially when parting with cash.
Social cues are almost as important
Humans are social animals. Most of us make our decisions based on what those around us think.
This means that social cues — word of mouth, customer reviews, and public associations — can be an incredibly powerful form of marketing. Unfortunately, these are also very hard to measure.
Influencer marketing has become so popular because we’re social animals. If everyone in your community — the people we see every day — are raving about a product, you’re probably going to borrow their opinion, whether you use the product or not.
Customer reviews on your site or elsewhere offer a great opportunity to influence customer perceptions. When people see you resolving issues online, it helps to form a positive impression. The same goes for the content that people see about your brand on blogs and social media.
Before the internet, the only way of finding out what people thought was to ask them directly. But online reviews, blogs, and social media give us the opportunity to learn about and sway public perceptions on a much wider scale. It also gives other people the opportunity to influence consumer perceptions of your brand.
Demographics also play a big part in customer behavior. If consumers perceive that a company only caters to certain types of clientele — and they’re not it — they’re unlikely to use that brand for fear of feeling out of place. This is why luxury brands are so selective about their customers.
Marketing is a way to influence both factors
Marketing acts on both the previous factors. It’s used to manipulate the early customer experience and harness the power of social cues to affect how the general public (your potential customers) perceive your company.
Incorporating something like a super-bowl ad into your marketing strategy can quickly establish your brand as a big player, and by extension, make your brand appear more trustworthy. #brandperception Click To Tweet
Branding is an incredibly powerful tool for influencing public perception. Color, tone of voice, even store decoration and packaging can heavily influence how people perceive your brand.
When choosing your brand colors, it’s important to remember the pre-existing associations that people have with things like color and font.
Traditional advertising can have a huge influence on public perceptions of your brand, and we can use it to help customers form positive associations with our brand.
Incorporating something like a super-bowl ad into your marketing strategy can quickly establish your brand as a big player, and by extension, make your brand appear more trustworthy. You can do the same over a longer period by consistently producing high-quality, easy-to-share content.
Tactics like sponsoring (or even creating) sporting events are a powerful way of forming associations in customers’ minds. Over the last decade, RedBull has cemented its place in the hearts of ‘Xtreme Sports’ fans in exactly this fashion.
We’ve covered the main factors that influence how customers perceive your business. You can find everything else you need to know about customer perception here.