Marketers throw around the term customer perception a lot these days. It is the sum of opinions, beliefs, and emotions that your customers hold about you. Customer perception is very subjective and, at times, irrational. It does not look at the actual experience your customer has, but their feelings. Emotions can make or break a brand, so it is crucial that you know how your customers think about your business.
In this guide, we compiled 4 ways to improve your customer perception and boost your business.
Why you should care about customer perception
The 2021 Zendesk Customer Trends Report found that 1 in 2 customers is willing to switch to the competition after just one bad experience with a business. In other words, one wrong step and you can risk losing half of your client base. On the other hand, if you focus on building a relationship and providing exceptional service at every stage of the customer journey, you can foster a positive customer perception.
Every business dreams of achieving growth through word-of-mouth. Satisfied customers happily become brand ambassadors – free advertising. But unhappy customers can be very vocal too. The reputation of your brand is on the line when it comes to customer perception. You not only risk losing existing customers but also scaring away potential new customers. You can only make a first impression once. Once people get a particular idea in their head, it is very hard to change their opinion – psychologists call it ‘confirmation bias’.
To make matters worse, unhappy customers are louder and more vocal than happy ones. Even if you offer the best quality product at the lowest market rate, a negative reputation and brand image will drive away a big chunk of potential business. You must get ahead of your customer perception before it becomes a problem.
Measuring customer perception
Now that we established why it is paramount that you keep an eye on your customer perception let’s discuss how you can measure it. There are three traditional survey methodologies.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
You have most likely encountered this survey many times. In its simplest form, it asks customers to rate how happy they are by selecting from 5 emojis. We recommend going a bit deeper and adding a few open-ended questions. Don’t simply ask for quantitative feedback, as for customer comments. It is harder to analyze but also gives you more actionable insights:
‘Why did you choose our service?’
‘How can we improve our service in the future?’
‘Did this interaction meet or fail your expectations?’
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Please rate how likely you are to recommend our business to friends and family from 1 to 10. This is, in essence, what the NPS measures. The goal is to score 7 or higher, meaning you have a high percentage of delighted customers who act as brand ambassadors. However, as with the CSAT, you can extract more value with open-ended questions. Use the answer to find out your weak points and strong points. We also recommend not to do an NPS survey more frequently than twice a year.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
The customer effort score shows how easy (or difficult) customers find different steps of your customer journey. Your goal is to provide resolution as quickly as possible with the least effort for the customer. As questions as: ‘What was the most time-consuming step of the process?’ or ‘Did you find it easy and convenient to get in touch with our support team?’.
Improving your customer perception
Whichever survey method you use, collecting the data is not enough. You need to analyze it and draw conclusions to improve your performance. We have four tips for you.
1. Provide outstanding customer support
We have talked in the past extensively, how you can improve your customer support experience. Let’s recap. The first line of support is your self-service section. Zendesk has various tools to build your knowledge base, create and improve your FAQ, and make sure that your customers can find solutions quickly.
Next, you should invest in omnichannel support options. Let your customers come to you on their terms and improve convenience. With Zendesk, you can have seamless conversations across multiple channels, such as email, chat, social media, and messaging. Find out more in our detailed guide on omnichannel support with Zendesk.
To speed up your response times, you can set up triggers and automations. Increase the efficiency of your workflows and improve your customer satisfaction levels in one.
2. Testimonials and success stories
Testimonials help to provide social proof to prospective customers. They are also a great way to display your excellent levels of service. Showing your customers how you helped others succeed through your business will increase your brand perception.
3. Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
The Zendesk CX Trends Report for 2021 found that:
- 63% of customers want to buy from socially responsible companies
- 54% prefer to buy from businesses that care about diversity, equity, and inclusion
- 49% want to experience empathy from a business
Zendesk can change how you engage with your customers. Instead of waiting for them to come to you in case of a problem, you can reach out proactively. You can use these tools to connect with your customers and show that you care about the same issues. Believable CSR is authentic. We recommend focusing on a cause or issue – try polling your employees for ideas – and partnering with a local charity and NGO to support it.
4. One for all, all for one
Customer-centric strategies don’t stop at the customer service department. The whole organization must act as one. Yes, your CX team has the most customer interactions and can best spot problems early on. But to solve them, they need the support of other departments, so all must be aligned and streamlined under the same strategy. Use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to centralize information about all customer interactions into one database. CRMs integrate with other customer-facing tools, like those used by your sales team or marketing team. Make your customer interactions more engaging and uniform across the whole business.
Your brand and your service experience are what sets you apart from the competition. Today it becomes easier than ever to copy a product or service. But your service quality, compassionate staff, and customer perception will always be unique. Whether it is a positive or a negative one, is entirely in your hands.