Content Marketing Manager
The traditional customer experience has changed a lot in recent years. So, it’s no surprise that customer expectations have, too.
Today’s consumers are less loyal, have less time, and are less likely to be found in physical stores, a year-long Deloitte study found (2019). People are also more socially conscientious and prefer experiences over products.
And it’s no wonder why. The way we consume and do business has shifted a lot in the last few years. There are more options for products and services, and new technology makes all of these options much more easily accessible. Plus, the average person has more financial constraints due to rising living costs paired with inflation. Combine these factors with rapid digitalization, and it’s easy to see why customer expectations have changed.
This isn’t just a concern for B2C companies, though. Business leaders have also become more scrupulous with who they do business with. Workforce shifts have led to tighter budgets, and purchase decisions are influenced by the move to hybrid and remote work.
When it comes to B2B customer expectations, they’re pretty in line with customer expectations in general. All consumers are less loyal, have less time, have tighter budgets, are more socially conscientious, and have rapidly evolving expectations.
But what are these expectations exactly, and what can you do to meet them? We have a few thoughts on the matter.
What are the expectations of customers today?
Today’s competition isn’t just about others in your niche. Instead, you’re competing against the customer’s last interaction. If a retail customer just shopped in a store and had stellar, personalized customer service, they’re going to expect that from the next store they shop at, too.
Digitalization takes this expectation and amplifies it. Now, you’re constantly competing with the customer’s last digital experience. For example, Uber first changed the game when it began offering things on-demand, from rides to food from your favorite restaurant. As a result, consumers wanted that same on-demand availability with everything.
Now, your website, apps, social media presence, offerings and more are being measured against everyone else’s. It’s a lot. Thankfully, there’s a big equalizer — and that’s customer service.
74% of people are likely to purchase based on a positive customer service experience alone, and 93% are more likely to make repeat purchases if the company has excellent customer service. Customers are even prepared to pay as much as 17% more for excellent service.
And of course, good customer service is a prerequisite for customer loyalty, turning 86% of clients into long-term brand advocates. Plus, 65% of customers say they’ll stick with companies if they provide positive customer service throughout the whole customer journey.
Customer service is a broad term, though, so it can be confusing to determine what constitutes good service. Here are the four most essential elements that impact the customer experience according to recent research:
- Knowledgeable help
- Friendly service
If you want to meet customer expectations, focus your business and service on these core areas.
It starts with company culture
Meeting these customer service expectations seems easy enough, but if it’s something you aren’t yet focused on, it could take an entire company culture shift to get there. Fostering a company culture that prioritizes customer success and puts the customer first will go a long way towards achieving your customer service goals.
So many companies say they do this, but they don’t really walk the walk. It’s important for businesses to get clear about their company values and make sure that those values align with their customer’s expectations.
Look at your existing policies. How do you handle complaints when a crisis arises? After all, 83% of people are more loyal to brands if they resolve and respond to their complaints. When push comes to shove, does your company have a process to ensure that the customer experience stays untarnished?
Empathy is at the heart of today’s customer expectations
Positive customer experience boils down to making the customer feel valued. Empathy has always been important, but it’s even more critical now. 71% of people agreed that businesses that showed empathy during the pandemic earned their loyalty.
By its very definition, “service” is simply the act of helping someone. Customer service shouldn’t be just about solving problems, it should be about enhancing the entire customer experience, so they feel valued whether you’re currently interfacing with them or not.
The end goal is to build relationships with your customers for life, not just for the here and now. Reaching that goal starts with showing empathy towards their needs and building trust with people over time. It’s about reevaluating your process for customer expectations and adjusting it to their unique needs. Let’s talk more concretely about how you can do this.
5 adjustments for exceeding customer expectations
These five adjustments are just a few ways to go from missing your customers’ expectations to exceeding them.
1. Incorporate personalization.
80% of people are more likely to purchase when experiences are personalized. Personalization isn’t unique to B2C, either. 63% of consumers expect companies to know their unique needs, and 76% of B2B buyers expect the same thing. As a result, if you want to meet customer expectations, focusing on personalization will help get you there.
From speaking your customer’s love language to promoting relevant products, personalization requires a bit of work on your part, but with the right tools and a little planning, it’s a worthy method for exceeding customer expectations.
2. Focus on speed.
90% of customers expect an immediate answer to their support questions. Make sure that you’re able to meet those needs. This doesn’t mean you have to have customer service agents on call 24/7. Instead, take it as a reminder that you need to empathize with your customer’s time and treat their matters urgently. Whether a person is a brand new lead or a longstanding client, you should have a process in place to handle their issues promptly, and communicate with them throughout the issue resolution process.
3. Streamline the customer experience.
71% of people expect customer service agents to have access to all information about their previous interactions with the company at their fingertips. So, it’s vital that all your customer information — from transactions to communications — is in one place. A CRM is a must-have tool for managing and streamlining customer experiences. It’s a way to keep all touch-points with customers in one place so that everyone on your team has visibility, and can get up to speed quickly when needed.
4. Provide self-service options, too.
Customer service isn’t always hands-on. In fact, 60% of people want self-service options. From finding answers to questions to making a purchase, today’s customers are happy to help themselves. Now, this doesn’t mean they don’t want any help. Find ways to provide hands-off assistance, like detailed product guides, how-to posts, help center articles and maybe even a branded community where your customers can interact and engage with your brand and each other. You should still be available, but a lot of people today want the option to minimize interaction and problem-solve on their own. Plus, providing self-service options also helps with conversion speed.
5. Increase your communication.
Keep your customers in the loop and let them know what’s going on. This isn’t just about promoting new product drops, either. Instead, make time to check in with your customers and see how they’re doing outside the sale. Finding time to communicate with your clients between purchases can help strengthen your relationship with them and build loyalty.
Set your business up to exceed customer expectations
It’s true; customer expectations are changing. Thankfully, as long as you remain empathetic and focused on building enduring relationships with your customers, you’ll be able to meet those expectations so your business will continue to thrive now and in the future.
As the relationship-centric CRM, Copper can help streamline this entire process. See how it works for yourself with a 14-day free trial.