* Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld
Brand Perception: How to Measure, Monitor, and Improve It in the Age of CX
Brand perception is a tricky and fragile thing. How customers perceive brands can make or break them. But while it can take years to build up your brand’s reputation, it can take only moments to come tumbling down.
With an ever-growing list of options at their disposal and switching costs and effort at an all-time low, how customers view your brand is more important than ever. Continuously keeping your finger on the pulse of how customers perceive your brand, and identifying the key drivers for these perceptions, is essential to effective brand reputation management.
How can you perform this brand perception analysis, and what can you do to boost your brand’s reputation over time? We take a closer look in this post.
- What is brand perception, and why is it important?
- What impacts brand perception?
- How can you change brand perception?
- How do you measure brand perception?
- Solutions to help brands measure, monitor, and boost brand perception.
Brand perception is how a customer or employee views your brand and offerings as a result of their interactions and experiences with your brand, either directly (e.g., first-hand experiences) or indirectly (e.g., word-of-mouth).
Why does brand perception matter? Well, what someone thinks of your brand can impact their decision to do business with you. Not to mention if they will recommend your brand to others or dissuade them entirely. Half of US customers would choose “word-of-mouth” when asked to pick only one source of information on which they could count. Thus, brand perception can significantly impact your bottom line.
At the same time, how employees perceive your brand can impact their work. It could even affect their motivation to stay with you long-term. Even with the potential of a pay increase, one study found that 50% of candidates wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation.
Brand reputation management is an essential initiative for any company to undertake continually. Any actions you can take to track, understand, and elevate these perceptions among your customers and employees is critical in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.
Think of your favorite brand. How did you go from being a first-time purchaser to becoming a loyal long-time customer? Have you ever recommended this brand to your closest friends, family members, or work colleagues? Chances are, your perceptions of that brand and their offerings drove these decisions.
A lot goes into how you form perceptions of a brand. These perceptions are an intangible quality created as a result of tangible components, including:
Advertising, marketing, and public relations (PR)
Obvious entries, but they bear mentioning. One of their main goals, after all, is to lift people’s perceptions of your brand. Whether it’s to promote a new product, announce a new initiative, or to help counter the negative impact from an event that’s taken place, brands’ reputations rely heavily on these activities.
Also, with the increasing need for brands to connect emotionally with their customers, these three disciplines help build this connection.
It’s easier than ever for people to share their opinion with others, offline and online. With the proliferation of social media networks and review sites, opinions can quickly snowball online, affecting others’ perceptions of your brand in the process, for better or worse.
That impacts current and potential employees, too. For example, review sites like Glassdoor make it possible for people to access the type of insights they may otherwise not have been able to easily and quickly obtain in the past.
Customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX)
Substantial research shows the impact of customer experience on the bottom line. Plus, the large majority of brands expect to compete primarily based on CX today.
Every experience impacts what a customer thinks of your brand in some capacity. However, with more options in the marketplace, the need to eliminate speed bumps along the customer journey and ensure seamless experiences at all your touchpoints has never been more critical.
At the same time, brands are becoming more cognizant of the power of great EX on their ability to deliver excellent CX. One study by Forbes found that 70% of executives agreed with this sentiment. In the end, not only can EX impact how your employees view your brand as a whole, it can also potentially affect their day-to-day tasks, which can then influence your customers’ perceptions, too.
Know your customers.
Before you can improve customer perceptions of your brand, it’s essential to understand your customers themselves.
What do they need and expect from each experience with your brand? How do these change as they move along the customer journey? What do they expect from your brand in general, and what drives them to choose you over others? Having a concrete understanding of your customers can provide a solid foundation for any efforts aimed at elevating their perceptions.
Be proactive with your communications.
Proactivity is essential to truly keep your finger on the pulse of what people think of your brand. It also shows that you care about their experiences and are always looking to be better. Avoid taking an entirely reactive approach and waiting for your customers and employees to come to you with their feedback. At which point, it may already be too late to do anything.
Check-in with your customers and employees and gauge their perceptions of your brand regularly. See how their perceptions trend over time — flag changes in brand perceptions early before it’s too late to do anything.
Offer the types of experiences your customers are craving.
As we’ve established, a customer’s experiences with your brand are significant in how they perceive you. Understand their preferences and expectations, and explore adjusting your customer experience strategies to cater to your customers’ wants.
For example, over 60% of customers prefer using digital self-serve options like chatbots to get their questions answered. They only want to turn to a live agent for more complex requests. In this case, providing quick and personalized customer service, pre- and post-purchase, can go a long way to elevating experiences. In turn, it can influence how they perceive the brand, from one that offers inconvenient or frustrating support experiences to one that ensures everything is easy for their customers.
Don’t just collect feedback. Act on it.
Besides keeping an eye on social media and other public forums for how people think of your brand (more on this below), the only way to know how people perceive your brand is to ask them directly.
However, only collecting the voice of your customers and employees, and performing a brand perceptions analysis, is not good enough. Having the means to share these insights and enable quick action throughout your organization is essential to get the most out of your customer and employee feedback and, hopefully, implement steps to boost brand perceptions.
Let’s look at some ways to help you measure brand perceptions.
Monitor social media.
Track mentions of your brand on the different social media networks out there. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – keep a close eye on these networks to catch developing trends early, and perform sentiment analysis to see how the nature of people’s opinions around certain keywords or when talking about certain topics, and see how it trends over time.
Keep an eye on customer and employee reviews.
Like social media, make a point to stay on top of how your brand is being mentioned elsewhere online. Make sure you are notified of when someone mentions your brand on public online forums (e.g., Reddit), customer review sites (e.g., Amazon customer reviews, Google Places / My Business), blogs, and news sites.
Send out customer surveys.
Surveys provide a way to gather targeted insights from your customers to better understand how they perceive your brand and the key drivers of these perceptions. Collecting customer feedback at all your touchpoints on all channels, including your website, mobile app, or via email (to name a few), provides an opportunity to dig deeper into their experiences and perceptions. These valuable first-party insights will help inform critical CX decisions internally and drive customer-centric action to boost customer perceptions.
What questions would a brand perceptions survey include? Ultimately, it comes down to whatever questions can best get you to the insights you need in your brand reputation management efforts. However, you can consider including the following types of questions in your brand perception study, and be sure to include follow-up questions to dig further into your customer feedback:
- Net Promoter Score® (NPS®): How likely are they to recommend your brand to a friend, colleague, or family member? Why or why not? (Note: We take a quick look at including NPS questions in your customer satisfaction surveys in a recent post.)
- Ability to meet expectations: Did their most recent experience or interaction with your brand meet or exceed their expectations?
- Brand Image: Has their most recent experience enhanced their view of your brand? In what way, and why? Do they rate your brand highly in specific attributes and poorly in others, and how come?
Conduct employee surveys and interviews
Excellent EX leads to exceptional CX, which can boost brand perceptions for all parties involved. As such, when seeking ways to increase customer perceptions of your brand, it’s essential to look internally and determine how you can do the same for your employees.
Conduct employee interviews or anonymous internal surveys to gain these first-party insights. This exercise will also help identify any gaps in how your employees and customers perceive your brand, helping inform your next steps and strategies for moving forward.
It’s essential today to truly understand how your customers and employees perceive your brand. At Astute, our goal is to provide brands like yours with customer engagement solutions to help you measure and elevate experiences across the customer journey, helping you lift brand perceptions in the process.
- Astute VoC, our voice of the customer solution, helps you obtain targeted insights about how your customers perceive your brand. You can then easily share with key stakeholders internally in real-time to unlock action.
- Astute Social, our proven social media management software, helps you understand how people are talking about your brand online. It brings together everything people are saying about your brand on social media, review sites, and anywhere else online and uses Natural Language Processing and sentiment analysis to automatically categorize every comment by topic and sentiment as they come in.
- Astute Bot, our award-winning chatbot solution, leverages AI and your internal knowledge bases to provide customers an easy way to self-serve and engage with your brand at any time.
Learn more about our different solutions and how they can help you gauge and elevate brand perceptions. Request your personalized demo today.