What is customer perception research and how can it help my organisation?

Customer perception research explores everything that your customers have previously and are currently taking on board regarding your organisation. It includes customer experience, what they perceive and hear about you, whether expectations are being met, and external influences on their decision making. Simply put, it can focus in on how your customers really perceive your organisation and what you can do to improve customer service, brand image, and product or service range. 

Knowledge gained from the results of a customer perception research study will help you and your organisation develop ideas and solutions for driving the business forward. Key findings and trends will pinpoint what you must do to improve customer opinion and drive customer loyalty. Importantly, results data will detect what motivates your customers to purchase or recommend your products or services. It will uncover what the customer would like to see more of and where things might be going wrong or causing detriment to the brand. 

In this article, we will discuss the importance of customer perception research, types of customer perception research, using customer segments to organise a study, and the customer perception questionnaire.

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The importance of customer perception research 

Customer perceptions are central to the success of your organisation. Customer perception research is exploratory research that will tell you how your customers perceive your organisation, its people, your services/products, the wider brand. The findings results will precisely inform you on whether you are making the right decisions for the organisation and thus, leading your organisation in the appropriate strategic direction.  

Today when it comes to marketplace competition, the organisation will be facing multiple challenges as the impact of online marketing can be brutal when businesses try to outdo one another to gain an advantage. For this reason, marketers strongly recognise the power of identifying the customers’ needs and expectations; working out why they are attracted to a service provision, product, or marketing campaign. Alongside excellent customer service, the best way to compete more successfully is to offer the customer what they want now. In addition to this, you will want to offer the customer what they do not yet know they want - based on the customer behaviours and motivations revealed in a customer perception study, you can be certain that they will appreciate whatever it is once it is seen or experienced! 

Types of customer perception research 

Quantitative customer perception research

Answers to research questions are gathered by conducting a quantitative questionnaire. Quantitative research methodologies include online surveys and panel research. 

Qualitative customer perception research

Answers to research questions are gathered by conducting a qualitative semi-structured questionnaire, which allows for more ‘free comment’ from the participant. Qualitative research methodologies include telephone surveys, face to face surveys, and focus groups. 

Mixed method customer perception research

Answers to research questions are gathered by conducting a mixed-method questionnaire. Mixed method quantitative and qualitative research methodologies include online surveys supported by telephone surveys. 

Using customer segments to organise customer perception research 

It is good practice to use customer segments (sometimes known as customer personas) to guide and divide the data according to these different customer types. Customer segments are simply, grouped representations of your customers according to distinct market sectors or other key behaviours. Typically, a customer perception survey would include screening questions to define the customer segments early on. When the survey data is generated, the results can be effortlessly filtered according to the type of customer, making the discoveries even more meaningful.

The questionnaire 

  • All research must start by identifying the key objectives of the research and recognise important areas that the organisation needs to find out more about. Once done this will provide the structure you require to start building a customer perception questionnaire. 
  • Key areas can include how do the customers experience the service they receive, what do they think of individual products, how do they relate to the company brand, what are the perceived strengths and weaknesses? 
  • Overall perception evaluation is calculated by measuring how well the customers' expectations meet their actual experience and how this compares to the intended perception of the organisation. 
  • Who to survey? The research can begin with the organisation’s existing customers but can also include lost customers and prospective customers. 

conclusion 

Nowadays quality and reliable customer insight is more valuable than it has ever been. Good data from customer perception research will give you the information you need to make core improvements to your organisation. By making significant or even small changes in tune with what your key customers are telling you, you will naturally have more cohesion with your existing and future audiences. This in turn means more visits to your website and an increase in the uptake of your services, more purchasing, and many more happy customers. There are lots of things you can do to increase your visibility and customer satisfaction, but importantly, a customer perception research study will help to get you started and go some way in identifying the core pillars that will help move your organisation forward. Eventually, the success of your business will demonstrate the value of listening to your customers' perceptions.

Would you like to discover how customer perception research will benefit your business or organisation? Get in touch today and see how Mackman Research can help you conduct customer perception research… 

Dr Gemma Mackman

Dr Gemma Mackman

Research Director

Dr Gemma Mackman is co-founder and Research Director of the Mackman Group. Her professional career has given her a broad knowledge of business practices, an appreciation of good customer service and experience of a diverse range of sectors. Gemma is also a member of the Market Research Society and has completed research training provided by the Economic and Social Research Council.

More About Gemma

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