Customers are getting smarter.
They know that their experience today won’t be the same as yesterday.
That’s why customers have higher expectations from you. They want more personalization during their experience with your brand.
Looking at growing customer expectations, 70% of businesses are working towards improving the customer experience as they expect more personalization.
That’s not all.
Customers also expect flexibility and consistency when communicating with a brand. They want multiple options to interact with you when approaching for support or guidance.
You’ll notice that more than 60% of customers interact through multiple channels (irrespective of time, place, device, or medium) as they expect consistency.
These statistics indicate how customer service expectations are on the rise.
While these expectations are now out in the open, sometimes you’d still be worried about identifying them and coming up with a solid solution. You may even have sleepless nights thinking about solid strategies to exceed them.
But worry not. We’re here for you.
In this article piece, we aim to learn:
- What are customer expectations
- Their great customer expectations from you
- Ways to exceed them through tried and tested methods.
So, let’s dive in!
What Are Customer Expectations?
Customer expectations are formulated from the needs, ideas and feelings of customers towards a brand's products or services. These expectations represent their desires from the products or services they pay for.
Customer expectations are decision influencers. It’s like setting a bar or a reference point for the customer. It’s used when they:
- Select a product/service
- Compare their existing choice brand with another
For example, a friend always likes to purchase groceries from Amazon. She opted for their prime membership to get the delivery fast, and other perks, such as:
- No minimum order value required for FREE Standard Delivery
- Prime Video- Get unlimited video streaming of latest movies, award-winning Amazon originals and TV shows from India and around the world
- Prime Reading - You can borrow eBooks, comics, and more from the Prime Reading catalog and read them on your Kindle E-reader or the free Kindle reading apps for Android, iOS, PC and Mac
Now, her expectations aren’t just met but exceeded with Amazon services. She gets her orders on time and gets freebies with her prime subscription. But she won’t have the same expectations from other eCommerce brands. That’s because they won’t necessarily give a subscription option or may even deal in other freebies in the first place.
Except, those with equivalent potential may influence her decision, but she seems pretty much set with the current services offered by Amazon. That’s because consistent customer services set consistent customer expectations.
There’s a lot more than setting a reference point from where your customers can start expecting from your brand. And that’s exactly what we aim to cover in the following sections below.
How Customers Expectations in Reality Fall Short
The coming of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era of exponential technological growth, has certainly changed the scope for customer experience. New technologies like live chat, knowledge base and ticketing systems are just a few examples of this technological era.
However, their use alone does not guarantee a delightful customer experience.
According to a recent study by Gladly, the lack of personalization makes 64% of customers feel like a ticket number.
Understand that customers expect a personalized experience when approaching your brand for support. And if a support experience makes them feel like a ticket, then even the use of such amazing tools cannot help your brand get an edge over the competitors.
What do you do?
In his recent podcast with Ronn Torossian - Crisis Management and Customer Experience, Shep Hyken discusses the example of United Airlines. In 2017, a flight attendant was accused of dragging off a passenger onboard due to overbooking. Hyken expresses how such incidents lower “our expectations of airlines.” And that’s when he lists a small checklist of how such experiences can be managed by businesses today.
- Find out what actually happened
- Decide how you wish to handle the situation
- Make a plan of action for both present and future so such incidents are never repeated
Once you practice these regularly, your business can manage a customer’s experience along with their expectations. Besides that, you get a window to start working on strategies that enable you to exceed expectations in the future.
Why Exceeding Customer Expectations is Critical
There is no doubt that customers have certain service level expectations from the brands they approach.
These customer service expectations include:
- Deliver what you promise and do it when you say you are going to do it
- Don’t connect a customer to multiple operators to get an issued resolved
- Hire knowledgeable employees who can answer all the questions
- Help customers connect with the brand via their preferred channel
- In case you mess it up, make it right - Be decisive
- It should be a piece of cake to do business with you
- Personalize and customize every customer’s experience
These are just the basics of customer expectations. To exceed them, you need to be like Morton’s Steakhouse. They created one of the best customer service experience stories ever after taking Peter Shankman’s tweet seriously.
Peter explained, “I was joking. I had absolutely no expectations of anything from that Tweet. It’s like how we Tweet “Dear Winter, please stop, love Peter,” or something similar.”
Now, little did he know that he would find a guy in a tuxedo next to his driver carrying a Morton’s bag. And all he said, “I. Was. Floored.”
“When a business adds a wow factor to their services, that’s when they exceed customer expectations.”
And Morton’s Steakhouse did exactly that. Customer service stories such as these impact the customer expectation trends in the market.
*Note: Factors such as behavior or preferences towards customer service are likely to impact decision making processes that can be termed as customer expectation trends.
Basic Customer Expectations
You must have noticed a question popping up on a few forums “how to meet customer expectations?”
Well, I completely understand when I see such questions on forums because customer expectations are on the rise all the time. And looking at them, that’s the only question a lot of you have in mind.
That’s why in the following section below, we aim to check out some of those expectations and suggestions on how to meet & exceed customer expectations while creating an awesome service experience.
Let’s check them out!
1. 'Fast' Service
In a survey, 71% of consumers identified that quick solutions are one of the deciding factors for them to see if their experience was good or not.
One of the first things your customers demand is fast service.
By fast service they mean:
- A quick, responsive website
- Instant response for their issues
- Quick follow-ups
- Instant checkouts
- Safe and quick transactions
And these expectations of fast service are only seen to grow as we bring more technological updates to the business process.
|💡 Suggestion: Add live chat software to make sure your customers get instant service while browsing your website. Your operators can monitor website behavior with the help of live chat. They can initiate a chat when they see an exit or purchase intent from the visitor’s end.|
2. Accurate Information Via Self-Service
One of the things that have gained importance in the customer service expectation list is self-service.
According to Microsoft, 77% of consumers use self-service support portals to find answers for simple customer service questions rather than approaching an operator for support.
But the same study also indicates that 12% of Americans cannot find the information they need in the self-service portal. That means you need to focus on creating a self-service portal for your customers that:
- Contains accurate information
- Answers some of the frequently asked questions
This would allow you to reduce support chats and tickets, and enable your operators to focus on more pressing issues effectively such as what customers want.
|💡 Suggestion: Use a knowledge base software to create a self-service knowledge repository for your customers. It can enable you to offer answers to customers without them approaching you for support.|
3. Personalized Support Experience
Personalized experiences create evangelists.
And numbers prove that.
According to Gladly, 77% of customers recommend a brand to friends and family and 52% on social media or review sites if they provide a more personalized experience.
If you keep on thinking “How to meet customer expectations?”, then personalizing the customer journey is the key.
During their journey, customers expect you:
- To know them
- Understand their mindset
- Common problems they face
- Offer a solution fast
For this, first, capture customer feedback. This approach will help you understand customers and what aspects of your services boost their brand expectations.
|💡 Suggestion: You can capture customer feedback either via a post-service feedback survey or add a nudge to your self-service articles. This will help you know if your services were useful or not.|
Watch: How to Add Nudge 🙂
4. Effortless Website Experience
Consumer expectations vary when it comes to the website experience. Some may ask for more simplicity, while others may expect to see a visual hierarchy like Adobe (a ProProfs customer).
However, there are more expectations your customers may have. Some of these are listed below:
- Intuitive navigation
- Consistency throughout brand messaging
- A user-centric website that’s been tested and implemented after visitor feedback
- Consistent site pages
While these are the conventional expectations of a customer from website experience, there’s another that’s on the rise - human touch.
Building trust and credibility for your brand online are crucial since your competitors are working towards the same. But adding a human touch to your website will help you gain an edge. Take the example of MailChimp.
Their website and application add a human touch (without a human face) with the help of their mascot named Frederick Von Chimpenheimer IV (or Freddie for short). The mascot adds humor with virtual high-fives and connects with users on emotional grounds. This, in return, helps their users feel like they have another team member on board rather than working with a tool.
|💡 Suggestion: Humanize your website content and experience to connect faster with your target audience. This will help them look forward to your brand and engage better.|
5. Be Omni-present
This definitely sounds like I’m asking you to be a god, but no I’m not.
By omnipresent, I mean acquiring the ability to be present everywhere.
Your customers want the liberty to connect with your brand through their favorite communication channel. And at the same time, they want you to be present all the time.
A human can’t do that alone. But a brand?
With the right set of technological tools, social networking, and, more importantly, omnipresence can help you meet this customer expectation.
Brands like Coca-Cola and Sephora have done it successfully. I’m not saying you need to do it on the same scale. But yes, adapting the right tools and connecting the dots in your support process across multiple channels, you can do it too.
In an article, Josh Barney asks his readers, “how far away from a can of Coca-Cola are you right now?”
Well, that’s because Coca-Cola is everywhere, including shops, restaurants, vending machines, malls, canteens, hotels, cafes, fast-food chains, theatres, and more. Literally anytime, anywhere.
Similarly, Sephora has managed to be omnipresent both on online and offline platforms.
Sephora EVP of Omni Retail Mary Beth Laughton in one of her podcasts talked about omnitude, “the idea that we’ll do whatever we can to delight our consumer wherever she is shopping with us.”
What’s more, they’ve created a consistent experience across all platforms in the form of virtual artists. You can find them online and at their physical stores, helping customers find the right product according to their skin tones.
|💡 Suggestion: To be omnipresent for your customers, you must understand the possible ways they are likely to get in touch with your brand. This will enable you to reach your customers and make your products available for sales faster.|
4 Ways to Exceed Customer Expectations
“A study conducted by Walker revealed that 85% of customers are willing to splurge more on a product where the consumer expectations are guaranteed to have met.”
Just imagine how much will your customers be willing to pay if you exceed their expectations every time?
That’s why you need some of the best techniques to exceed customer demands and some of them are listed below.
1. Acknowledge Your Returning Customers
Your customers love it when you remember them. When customers feel acknowledged by a brand, they end up going back to them for future purchases.
As the pandemic started to take over, people were stocking essential products, and a lot of them went out of stock. And this includes pet essentials. I was looking for cat food and litter as it went out of stock everywhere online and at physical stores. That’s when someone referred Heads Up For Tails, a local online store that was delivering what I needed.
On my first purchase, here’s what happened:
- They kept me in the loop about my product delivery status
- Delivered my product the next day!
- Gave me their catalog and explained what’s new for my cat
This really impressed me. Now, I never knew that on my next purchase they would welcome me with an email like this:
This email definitely exceeded my customer service expectations because the brand recognized me from my previous visit and made me feel like a valued customer. And honestly, that’s how customers feel when brands acknowledge them for returning - they feel valued and connected.
2. Admit & Makeup for Your Mistakes
If I have to name one business who really knows how to admit mistakes to their customers and rectify them efficiently, then it’s got to be Amazon.
In one of their customer service chats, the Amazon support rep took the conversation to the next level. A customer was tracking a book order that showed it was delivered, but he did not receive the shipment. To make sure the customer did not leave with a complaint about this mistake and had a great customer service experience with the brand, the rep took on Thor's character in the chat!
The customer enjoyed the support experience rather than fret about it. The support rep made sure the customer received an instant refund for the book and offered a one-day delivery service on the reorder. Not only this delighted the customer but exceeded their service expectations too.
3. Act on Your Customer’s Feedback
While meeting customer expectations is one thing, exceeding them is completely different. Similarly, capturing feedback is meeting customer expectations but acting upon it is another way of exceeding them.
Gathering feedback helps you understand customer’s expectations from your brand and you can decisively point out what your customer wants.
It even enables your business to see if customers are satisfied with your services or not. And if we can’t look into the factors that boost customer satisfaction, building loyalty would become another challenge to endure. That’s why capturing customer feedback is crucial for the business.
But once you do that, you need to make sure that it gets categorized with other feedback. If you want, you can categorize them in sales and marketing feedback, product feedback, and customer service feedback.
And once you do that, figuring out the common feedback would become a lot easier for your team and you.
If you thought I'd stop there, then the answer is no.
You’ve got more work to do.
You’ve got to figure out ways to implement the feedback and whether you have the bandwidth to work on them. Once you finalize the amount of time it may take, go ahead and let your customers know that you’ve found a way to incorporate their feedback.
Your efforts won’t go unnoticed.
In fact, they’ll feel respected and cherished every time they’ll come back to you for business. That’s because they know their words matter.
4. Track & Train Operators for Awesome Customer Service Experience
It doesn’t help your business if you’ve got pushy sales or support team members. They are more likely to upset your customers just how this Tesla customer was on his visit to the store.
He wrote a tweet to Elon Musk expressing how terrible his experience was with a pushy sales guy while he was shopping for model X.
What Elon Musk did, you can do it too in your own style.
Although, I’d say do not wait for your customers to make a complaint about such issues. You can identify them too.
Tools like live chat software allow you to track your operators’ performance based on their individual rating average. In case you notice the ratings of an operator hitting less than three, you should:
- Look into their chat history with the customers
- Check their transcripts
- Look into customer feedback
These will help you understand what’s going wrong when an operator is offering support to your customers. Based on the issue identified, you can come up with a solution to train operators and enable them to create a delightful customer experience for all your customers. This will allow your brand not only to match up but also exceed customer service expectations with time.
Measure Your Progress
The techniques are sure to help you exceed customer expectations. But make sure you track the outcome of each technique through customer experience metrics.
Some of the metrics that are sure to help you measure progress and gauge whether you exceeded customer expectations are mentioned below.
1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score is used to measure customer loyalty. It is calculated by surveying participants and asking the question “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend, colleague, or family on a scale of 0-10?”
The results of the survey can be divided into three categories:
- Loyal/promoters are likely to rate your business on a scale of 9-10
- Passives who rate your business on a scale of 7-8
- Detractors are likely to rate your business on a scale of 0-6
In case you find more promoters, it means that your customers are satisfied with your brand and enjoy the service experience you weave.
Watch: How to Calculate Net Promoter Score 🙂
2. Customer Effort Score (CES)
Customer Effort Score enables your business to measure customer service satisfaction with a single question. The thought behind this metric is to create loyal customers by reducing customer effort.
This score outperforms CSAT and NPS scores in predicting customer behavior that helps you work towards creating better customer service experience and ultimately matching or exceeding expectations.
3. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
Customer Satisfaction Score helps you measure a customer’s satisfaction with a brand’s service or products. Simply create a customer satisfaction survey and understand the overall experience for your customers. You can measure customer satisfaction score on a scale of 1-5, 1-7, and 1-10.
You can organize the 1-5 scale in the following order:
1 – not satisfied at all
2 – somewhat unsatisfied
3 – indifferent
4 – somewhat satisfied
5 – very satisfied
Besides these three, you can measure customer interactions through various support tools used by your business.
At ProProfs, we use the following support tool reports to understand whether we’ve met customer expectations or not.
4. ProProfs Knowledge Base Reports
Self-help articles can help you offer instant answers to customers and exceed their support expectations efficiently. Knowledge base reports will allow you to understand:
- The total number of reads your knowledge repository has received on the basis of daily, weekly, or monthly basis
- Which articles have been popular in the repository search
- The total number of searches made by your customers in a span of day, week or monthly basis
- The top keyword searches used to search your knowledge base that helps you understand the user intent or expectation for service
- The number of failed searches to understand how many articles are still missing from your knowledge repository
- Which articles were poorly rated by your customers and understand how they can improve further
- Which articles are popular and match customer expectations in your repository
5. ProProfs Live Chat Reports
The best way to know if you’ve met your customer’s expectations is to see how they rated their experience after a support process. With ProProfs Chat reports, you can track, monitor and understand whether your support services matched customer expectations based on the rating they leave for your operators.
You’ll understand if:
- Your operators managed to create a delightful support experience and matched or exceeded their expectations or not
- Your customers received support instantly or not through average response time report
- Your operators missed a customer support chat or not via missed chat reports
Such metrics also help you understand if you have enough members in the support team to take upon customer support requests and provide solutions that match or exceed expectations.
6. ProProfs Help Desk Reports
We also take into account our help desk reports that help us to understand if we’ve met the support expectations of our customers or not. The overall support rating prompts you to delve into factors that may affect a customer’s experience and come up with steps that help you improve it in future.
The combination of these tools and their metrics is the perfect way to get an insight on whether your brand has met customer expectations through service or not.
Use Your Excellent Customer Service to Meet Expectations
Meeting customer expectations or exceeding them can become a psychological challenge for your business if it is not equipped with a bullet-proof plan. Your plan should help you inform customers about what your brand can really do for them and set their expectations.
Nevertheless, use of the right techniques can help your brand exceed customer expectations effectively.
Now that we’ve seen various ways to help your brand exceed customer expectations, let’s take a look at some of the frequently asked questions.
What are the five basic needs of a customer?
Every customer has expectations from a brand, but there are top five basic needs that help them be with a brand in the long run. These are:
- Consistent functionality of your products and services
- Convenient pricing of products
- Delightful product and website experience
- Product reliability and performance
- Empathy, transparency and correct information during service
What are the top three factors that influence customer expectations?
Customers come across various factors that influence their expectations from a brand. The top three factors responsible for the same include:
- Customer reviews and word-of-mouth publicity
- Previous customer experience with the brand
- Shared values and beliefs during customer service
What are the top 5 customer expectation management tips?
It is important to set a reference point for your customers from where they can start expecting from a brand. With these top 5 customer expectation management tips, you can easily set a reference point and let your customers know what they can expect from your brand.
- Openly discuss a solution with your customers and provide them channels that help them do so instantly
- Always talk about clear timelines and when can the customer expect a solution to their troubles
- Be honest and transparent about how your teams work towards a solution
- Never forget to take regular follow-ups (but not in a pushy way)
- Be optimistic and realistic even when you want to go an extra mile to make your customers happy
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