All companies want to ‘exceed customer expectations’, but do you really know what that means? Continue reading below for the facts.
What are customer expectations?
Customer expectations are generally a set of ideas about a product, service, or brand that the customer holds in their mind. For example, customers that buy an Apple iPhone over another phone brand have a set of expectations about that product. For example, they expect to see that the phone has a sliding lock function, a ‘slate-style’ that has few to no physical buttons, with ‘Face ID’ facial recognition as standard. Customers want these expectations met in order to feel satisfied with the customer service as well as their purchase. They will also have expectations that are not that easy to see.
Let us see how businesses can deliver against these tangible and intangible expectations.
Why customers’ expectations are vital to businesses.
Knowing your customers’ expectations is important to all businesses- whether you are a small business or a large enterprise organization. In this year large organisations plan to increase the effort they put into improving their customer service compared with the previous year. This has increased in importance over the past year due to Covid-19. Customer expectations matter because – if you can meet them- customers are likely to return after a positive experience. To do well now as well as in the future, companies need to close the gap between customer expectations, and the actual customer experience.
How have customer expectations changed over time?
Over time our customers expectations do tend to change. Here are a few reasons why this happens.
Demand for exceptional customer service is growing, especially among the millennial generation.
Microsoft found that 54% of customers have higher expectations for customer service today compared to one year ago. The demand for better customer experience is particularly strong with the new millennial generation of consumers, who are expecting even higher levels of customer service experiences. In the same study, a larger proportion, 66% for consumers were aged from 18 to 34 years old.
The power of the consumer is greater.
With more competitors in each industry, the emphasis for companies must be on how to keep your customers happy – because there are plenty of alternatives out there. Because of this increased power of the consumer and an expanding market, it’s reported that 48% of consumers expect specialised treatment for being a good customer, according to research by Accenture.
Changing events and circumstances impact the way customers behave.
If the last year with Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that our social, political, and economic activities can change rapidly in response to emerging events. We have seen customer behaviour change as a result, which has its own knock-on effects. Customer expectations will change and it’s up to brands to get a feel for their customers’ needs and expectations during these uncertain times.
What do customers expect from businesses today?
What are the common customer expectations that companies need to work on to provide an excellent customer experience?
Look to personalize the experience throughout the customer journey, whether it is pre, during or after purchase. This focuses the service experience on them. This could happen when a customer service agent uses the customer’s name in conversation, or when the customer receives email discounts, tailored to what they usually, or might like to buy. It can occur as a service, like personalized shopping styling, or be built into the product itself, so it is just right for them. Not only does it help to direct customers to products and services that they like, making their customer buying journey easier; but it also improves sales.
Quality customer service.
Customers want to see that you care about their wellbeing, lives, and what matters to them – and customer experience is the way to do it. By focusing on your customers, your organisation can become 60% more profitable. This expectation cannot be stressed enough: Treat your customers like VIPs. The value of customer services influences the prices that customers will pay customers will be more willing to buy from a company that has a reputation for its great service. Companies have made real money from their reputation for having great customer service alone. Do not let your customers feel under appreciated by making more effort to engage and learn more about your customer’s wants, feelings, desires and beliefs. Be authentic and genuine in your interactions, and most importantly, be human. Empower your customer service agents to help the customer and make that their sole goal.
Up to Date Knowledge.
Customers want to interact with people who can answer their questions quickly and correctly, to give them the information they need to make their buying decision. Microsoft found that almost one in three people (30%) say that speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent is the most important part of customer service. Make sure your employees know what is hot, what to say and how to handle questions they do not know about. It is no good having customer service agents that do not know about the latest products or information – ‘the blind leading the blind’ is not a winning strategy. In addition, giving customers knowledge tools to help themselves is highly recommended.
How to exceed customers’ expectations.
Based on the core requirements above, here are the three ways to get you the information you need for meeting your customers’ expectations:
Know what your customers’ expectations are.
It’s important to check in with customers so you can ask what their experience has been like and what their expectations are. This is useful information to help improve products and services and improve the customer service knowledge about what the customers want. In short, know what your customers’ expectations are so you can take steps to meet those expectations.
Renew the focus on providing excellent customer service.
Customer service agents need to be quick to help, easy to talk to and care about the customers that they serve. Help your customer service employees by reading our free Customer Service Playbook to see how you can improve your customer service. Regular training on latest company news and product/service updates can also help employees remain knowledgeable and support the customer quicker. By making customer-centric thinking a part of your work culture, you can re-vitalize what customer service really means and make it central to the success of your teams. Rally up the executives and see how it can be included in the overall company strategy.
Measure how you are doing against your customer expectations.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Change is necessary if you want to improve. Measure the right metrics to help you understand your service experience and create an action plan. Measurement is not the goal here, improvement is. But by measuring these metrics, we can chart our success. All companies want to ‘exceed customer expectations’, but do you really know what that means?Read our previous blog post (Click)