As times change and societal shifts occur, customer expectations evolve. Innovations like e-commerce and online reviews give consumers more power, and tech advances help businesses provide higher service levels. The COVID-19 pandemic changed how people shop, and these more discerning customer expectations – including heightened service levels that drive customer satisfaction – may be here to say.
To stay competitive, businesses must respond to changing industry dynamics and escalating customer expectations. An integrated, omnichannel customer service strategy might be the only way to deliver a truly delightful customer experience.
We’ll explore what a great customer experience looks like today and what customers expect from the companies they do business with.
According to a Kustomer survey of what consumers want, customers expect much more from companies they buy from. They are also willing to reward companies that meet their expectations with customer loyalty and increased sales. Here are some ways to avoid customer service pitfalls and provide a standout customer experience.
Customers want to feel like the product or service you provide is a good value, both overall and in relation to price. This expectation doesn’t mean you must charge excessively low prices. Value includes additional factors like product quality, customer support, relevant content, loyalty programs, and community-building.
When customers feel they’ve received a good value, they are more willing to share data and engage with your company.
Speed is a key factor in providing efficient customer service. The good news is that customers are happy to have their problems resolved by a chatbot, which can save you money and allow your customer service reps to handle thornier issues.
A McKinsey survey found that 71% of customers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. They want businesses to employ a personal touch and send only relevant communications. For example, if a customer bought a sweater, they don’t want to receive an email promoting the same sweater, but they’d likely welcome an email promoting pants that would look good with it.
To effectively personalize your communications, gather data on customers, including:
Keep this information in your customer relationship management system (CRM) program and use it to make relevant recommendations. Send recommendations via email and dynamic pages on your website that display items the customer recently viewed and complementary or similar products.
Personalization should also flow into your customer loyalty program so that once a certain amount of money is spent, you can offer customers a discount on products they’re more likely to buy.
When a customer has a problem or complaint, the company’s representatives must empathize with the customer’s predicament. It’s essential to emotionally connect with customers, especially if they’re upset.
Create processes to separate calls from upset customers and move them to the front of the line or to dedicated reps trained in calming customers and resolving high-priority problems.
Today’s customers quickly switch from websites to social media to email and phone calls. They expect companies to provide seamless service on all these channels. Many customers expect to use Twitter for customer service, along with email and live chat options.
All your customer service channels should be integrated so that customers can track their issues no matter their channel or device.
Omnichannel customer service eliminates several common customer frustration points, including:
In addition to omnichannel customer service, offer customers various purchasing options in addition to buying online and buying in-person. Consider offering buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) options, delivery for in-store purchases, and curbside pickup to maximize customer convenience.
Particularly in times of crisis, every customer interaction with a brand can trigger a lingering effect of trust and loyalty or disconnect. The COVID-19 pandemic changed how people did business and their expectations of companies. Here are some customer experience implications that resulted.
The pandemic caused unusual product availability disruptions, some of which still linger. Part of the problem is that supply chain distribution was disrupted. It’s still variable as suppliers adapt to labor shortages, pent-up demand, and limited availability of specific components, especially from overseas. Here are a few things to implement in your systems:
As customers first began falling ill and experiencing financial problems from lost jobs and closures due to the pandemic, they expected companies to respond with understanding and support. While the worst of the pandemic may be over, this expectation has remained. Positive, caring messaging can be a natural extension of your company’s mission statement, purpose, and values.
Consider how your business can help customers cope with current and ongoing issues. Goodwill gestures like extending extra assistance can strengthen brand loyalty.
Ask the following questions when determining how best to support your customers:
Look for the gaps in your customer experience, examine the hardships your customers are facing, and see how you can make things better. Continue supportive outreach efforts whenever a disaster or economic downturn affects your customers.
Brand loyalty is also driven by the ease of the buying experience, which often hinges on the online checkout process. During the pandemic, already-stressed customers did not want to jump through hoops to make an online purchase, and their tolerance for a clunky checkout process has persisted.
For an easy, frictionless checkout process, utilize the following features:
Creating a great customer experience is possible, even during times of significant disruption. Know and meet your customers’ needs, embrace transparency about product availability and shipping, and communicate with empathy to stand out in the increasingly crowded and busy e-commerce landscape.
David Fletcher contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.