What Is Customer Perception? Definition and How to Improve It

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 17, 2021

Customers often want to do business with brands they know and trust. Gaining this level of loyalty can provide a business with repeat customers and a strong reputation. How the public feels about your business can have a significant impact on customers' decisions to purchase your products or services. In this article, we discuss what customer perception is and why it's important, factors that impact customer perception and how to influence customer perception positively for your brand.

What is customer perception?

Customer perception refers to how a customer feels about your business. This includes their thoughts, emotions and opinions related to your brand. Customer perception can be positive or negative.

The customer perception process occurs when customers interact with your brand, products or services. This process includes:

  • Sensing: The sensing stage involves customers' physical senses, meaning what they see, touch, taste, hear and feel related to your product or services, such as the music playing in the background at a retail store or restaurant.

  • Organizing: After customers have a sensory experience, their minds organize this information based on their own personal values and beliefs. For example, a customer may consider where to eat for dinner by comparing menu prices, distance from their house and the sustainability practices of different restaurants.

  • Reacting: The reacting stage is when customers decide to act. This might mean they make a purchase from your business, purchase from another business or don't buy the product.

Related: 7 Psychological Factors in Marketing That Influence Consumer Behavior

Why is customer perception important?

Customer perception is important because consumers may be more likely to do business with companies they trust. Developing a positive relationship with customers can generate more leads and more sales, contributing to company success and longevity.

Customer perception can also impact whether consumers are loyal to your brand or switch to your competitors. By cultivating positive emotions and experiences, you can encourage your customers to come back for repeat purchases. Additionally, customers who value your brand and think highly of it may be more likely to recommend your products or services to others, leading to more leads and more sales.

Related: 11 Methods for Building Customer Loyalty

What influences customer perception?

Customer perception can change based on a variety of internal and external factors, such as:

Past experiences

Every interaction a customer has with your brand is an opportunity for you to impact their opinion of your company. Delivering consistently positive experiences can build trust between customers and your brand and lead to a loyal customer base.

Price

Many consumers prioritize price when choosing between service providers. Prices that are too high or too low may detract from the public's perception of your brand. Incorporate strategic pricing strategies based on market research, competitor practices and your business's financial needs.

Quality

Product quality can influence customers' perception of your brand. When your product or service exceeds expectations, customers feel like they received a good deal, leading to a positive experience that can lead them to do business with your company again.

Usability

Customers generally prefer products that are easy to use and have clear directions. The ease with which buyers can interact with your products and use them to solve a problem can influence their feelings about your brand. Aim to create products that a wide range of users can operate easily and choose straightforward, widely accessible language and features.

Location

Customers value convenience, and where your company is located can impact whether certain consumers choose to purchase your products or services. When scouting locations, try to choose one that is central to your target market and has easy entrance and exit points and convenient parking.

Customer service

Customer service is an important facet of how clients and customers view your business. Effective customer service can make customers feel appreciated, heard and respected. Even when customers have an issue with a product or service, a productive experience with your customer care team that meets their expectations and solves the problem quickly can leave customers with an overall positive perception of your company.

Read more: Guide to Customer Service

Marketing

Your marketing strategies deliver messages to the public about what your company is, what it values and why it's better than the competition. Your audience is receiving these messages from a range of mediums and can use them to develop an opinion of your brand.

Reputation

The news and stories people hear about your brand can impact their feelings about the business. For example, if your company appears in a news story about a fundraiser for a local charity, this can create positive feelings for viewers, even if they have never shopped with you before. External factors like media coverage and public reputation can help supplement the other elements that drive customer perception.

Read more: 17 Ways To Build a Reputation

Recommendations

Recommendations from family members, friends and influencers can influence whether a person purchases your products or services. This is why investing in strategies to improve customers' perception can be worthwhile, leading to an exponential increase in sales and conversions.

How to influence customer perception for your brand

Here are steps your company can take to improve customer perception:

1. Learn what customers think

Conduct research to learn what the public thinks of your brand, products or services. You can:

  • Send out surveys to current customers

  • Purchase a mailing list for your area

  • Post a link on your social media accounts to an anonymous survey

  • Search online for comments and reviews about your company

Hearing from people in their own words can provide you with a direction for your marketing and public relations initiatives. With these insights, you can target your decisions to the specific areas the public cares about. For instance, if 70% of survey respondents said that they felt your prices are too high, you might consider an alternate pricing or promotion strategy.

2. Apply your research to product development

Once you have an idea of how the public feels about you, you can create products and services that better meet customers' needs. You may consider upgrading existing products to include more features or enhance their usability. You might also launch new products as a response to an unmet need among consumers. For instance, if your business offers custom framing, you might launch a service for measuring and planning gallery walls in customers' homes.

3. Focus on customer service

Exceptional customer service may outrank other considerations, like price and location, as customers are deciding where to make purchases. Make sure your customer service team is prepared to exceed expectations by:

  • Creating comprehensive training programs for new employees

  • Giving representatives freedom to come up with reasonable solutions on their own

  • Employing secret shoppers to gauge the customer service experience

  • Providing surveys for customers to rate their experience

  • Rewarding representatives who exhibit the company's values

  • Holding regular training that incorporates role-playing scenarios

4. Improve the customer experience

Consider every facet of your customer's experience, from reading your website to visiting your store. Each of these points can positively or negatively affect how clients and customers feel about your business. Go through the steps that a customer does, and identify areas of improvement at each phase. For example, if you own a hair salon, you can improve the customer experience by:

  • Making the lobby comfortable and inviting

  • Offering beverages or snacks to clients who are waiting

  • Decreasing wait times for clients

  • Carrying a range of hair care products in store

  • Creating an app and website for clients to make appointments digitally

  • Sending reminder emails or texts when it's time for a follow-up service

You may also consider hiring a customer experience coordinator who can help determine what steps you can take and how to implement new elements successfully.

Read more: Customer Experience: Definition and Importance

5. Monitor public persona

After you conduct your initial research, it's important to stay aware of how the public views your brand. Stay engaged on social media and review sites to monitor the conversations around your products and services. For larger companies, it may be helpful to hire a public relations professional or reputation consultant.

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