By definition, customer expectations are any set of behaviours or actions that individuals anticipate when interacting with a company or enterprise. They are created in the minds of customers based upon their individual experiences and what they have learned, combined with their pre-existing experience and knowledge. Customers will have both explicit and implicit expectations regarding the product or service which they have purchased.
Historically, these expectations have been relativity basic - quality service and fair pricing.
In the current age these expectations are significantly higher, such as proactive customer service, personalised interactions, connected experiences across channels and so much more.
Most of us here have been to Aldi for our weekly food shop… you spend 20 minutes pondering around, keeping your distance from everyone, smiling through your non transparent facemask and gasping at the low prices for such quality food. Then you get to the checkout and before you know it's likely you'll either be left sweating, panicking and juggling 25 packets of biscuits and your Sunday dinner or incredibly proud that your packing skills match those of Aldi staff. According to https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/ the superstore staff are ‘encouraged’ to be as efficient as possible, but they have also been trained to operate the checkout to meet the pace of the customer. Do you think this method meets your expectations?
We all like our issues or enquires to be addressed efficiently when coming in contact with a company, but what makes us use them again and again? There is only one answer. The quality of the service or product, just like Aldi themselves! According to RightNow's Customer Experience Impact study, at 82% the top reason customers would stop using a business was rude and incompetent staff. This was 18% more than their issue not being resolved swiftly.
Despite this most businesses still use speed as their main measure of customer service quality. Europe's biggest budget airline Ryanair plays a recorded message stating how they arrive on time more than any other airline in Europe whenever arriving on schedule.
However, some companies have taken the findings on board and seen great success. Derek Sivers the founder of CDBaby, asked all his employees to always take a little longer on calls with customers. He later sold the business for $22 million.
Today, there are more ways than ever to connect with customers than ever before. There's email, social media, mobile, WhatsApp, zoom meetings, networking. The list goes on. But does it really matter where you connect with your clients or prospects?
Connecting with customers is more than just communication. Connecting is a strategic effort to create relationships beyond the initial transaction. It does involve communication, but it is so much more. Connected customers usually to become repeat customers, and repeat customers are absolutely vital to true business success. In addition, as you can well imagine it’s less expensive, and therefore more profitable, to KEEP a customer than to create a new one. So how do we do it?
Slow down… understanding the client and listen to their enquiry. It’s common to call a customer service number and the first thing you hear is an automated phone system. You then spend a good 50% of your time repeating yourself trying to pronounce your t’s and s’s correctly. No automation, its modern but it sucks. Efficiency is great but the image of your business plays a huge role in how you are initially perceived, and you are your business. If you present yourself as friendly, knowledgeable, trustworthy and providing value, then the customer will come to you expecting a positive experience and you will provide this.
It is great to feel appreciated. Show your customers their value by reinforcing their behaviour through connectivity.
Service after the sale is a great way to connect with customers and make them feel appreciated. Any time you can solve a problem or make something right for a customer, do so, even if it doesn’t make complete financial sense for you. Going out of your way to make a customer happy can reap significant rewards for your business. Your customers will feel special, it adds value to the purchase, and it enhances your reputation for honesty and integrity.
COMMIT TO YOUR WORDS
Connecting with customers is not a marketing method that can just be subtly placed into your strategy, it is a commitment. It is a business philosophy that impacts every aspect of your business every day. Consumers are always looking for businesses they can trust. Earn their trust in that initial visit then grow it through strategic and consistent communication. Stay well connected and you will make customers for life.
To summarise- The power of the internet and the huge technological changes we have seen over the past 10 years has completely revolutionised consumerism.
It has changed the way customers research, think and transact. The customer is armed with the power of knowledge at their fingertips 24/7 and is now in the driving seat. If businesses don’t meet their customers’ needs, there is always a company that will - just one click away. But it’s not too hard to keep up to date and exceed the expectations… stay calm, be efficient but don’t rush, think about quality, stick to your promises, be relatable and show real emotions wherever possible.