Whether you sell cheeseburgers or software, understanding what your customers expect from you, and then delivering on those expectations, is central to the success of your business.
The truth is, merely satisfying customer expectations doesn’t cut it anymore. Today’s customers are savvy—they research products and brands prior to making purchases: they want an authentic connection with the brands that they support; expect responsive, personal service; and demand not only quality, but transparency.
Beyond those basics, customers want to be delighted. Yet according to an Acquia study, 66% of customers can’t remember the last time a brand exceeded their expectations. So why are we missing the mark? And more importantly, how can we better align our customer experiences with their expectations? Here are a few ideas:
- Gather feedback. By asking your customers for feedback, you’re letting them know that their opinion is important to you. Plus, the information you gather is vitally important to your business marketing: How do you know what your customers want from you if you don’t ask? Use online and offline surveys, engage them with prompts on social media, follow up their purchase with an email asking for input, or invite them to leave reviews, as appropriate.
- Go omni-channel. If you want to engage your customers, you need to connect with them in authentic ways, which means meeting them where they spend their time. Be sure your content is seamless and brand-consistent across all channels: the web, social media, email, mobile, etc. But be sure to follow the rules, i.e., don’t spam their in-boxes—make content valuable and memorable; and monitor and respond promptly to social media comments. According to a Gartner study: “Businesses that do not respond to social media messages encounter a 15% increase in customer churn.”
- Over-deliver + delight your customers. According to research by American Express, customers are willing spend more money with a company that delivers excellent service. That excellence can take many forms—it can be a hand-written note after a sale, surprising customers with coupons on their birthdays, inviting loyal customers to special events, or providing exclusive content or upgrades.
- Get personal. Today’s consumers want to do business with brands they feel personally connected to, so tailor your content toward customers’ specific brand activity and interests: 91% are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations (Accenture).
- Be responsive. Digital media has spawned our instant-access culture and the lofty expectations we now have regarding customer service. While it may not be practical for you to assemble a dedicated 24/7 call center, consider using a live chat software or chatbots to provide prompt customer response.
- Be transparent. Again, authenticity is where it’s at. Always lead with comprehensive, accurate product/service information; and in the event of a product glitch, service challenge or inaccurate product statement, be forthcoming with any issues or mistakes. In most cases, customers will appreciate your honesty.
By taking the time to review and refocus your customer experience efforts, you’ll get closer to delivering on the expectations that can help your business perform better and create happy customers.