How Expectations Are Changing On The Customer Journey
Modern customers expect more than ever. With more vendors than ever competing for customer’s dollars, it’s certainly a buyer’s market when it comes to who gets to dictate the parameters of a transaction.
Gone are the days when customers had only one or two options available to them due to geographic location and other limiting factors. In an age of e-commerce, there are literally hundreds of thousands of accessible stores selling every product under the sun. This freedom of choice means that customers don’t just get to be picky about where they shop to begin with, they can also change their allegiance with little more effort than a couple of taps of the smartphone or clicks of the mouse.
In this kind of hyper-competitive landscape, focusing on the customer is crucial. This isn’t just some trite “the customer is always right” saying, however. There are ever-increasing ways of not just reaching customers, but personalising their experience, and using cutting-edge tools like Customer Journey Analytics to shed light on the multifaceted interactions enterprises have with their customers. In doing so, it’s possible to find new ways to pinpoint and resolve problems as well as continually iterate and improve the customer journey experience.
While it might be true that it is a buyer’s market, so too can capitalising on this in the right way make this a sellers’ market in a way that would be unimaginable just a few years ago. What are some of the ways customers expect organisations to behave when it comes to interactions? Here are three of the expectations frequently found among customers:
1. For interactions to be seamless
This is number one for a reason. Customers are busy people and, if they’re willing to spend their money or time on your business, they want the interaction to be as seamless as possible. That’s not to say that experiential touches aren’t part of the buying experience. But it does mean that, especially when it comes to online transactions, customer expectations are that the experience will be quick and painless. There’s a reason why Amazon is the leader in the west when it comes to e-commerce: everything from one-click shopping to one-day delivery (and, with its research into drone deliveries, maybe even one-hour delivery at some point soon) are about speeding up the buying process. The ultimate buying experience should be a pleasure. If you’re unable to make it a pleasure, then work hard not to make it a pain.
2. For you to come to the customer
Yes, advertising and marketing are important when it comes to connecting with customers. But this point isn’t so much about simply acquiring new customers as it is about meeting customers where they are. For example, businesses should keep abreast of changing usage of social media platforms to make themselves contactable via platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Having customer service teams available through these easy-to-use platforms makes the retail experience more seamless.
Personalisation is also part of the equation here. Making personalised recommendations and finding out ways to treat your customers as individuals, rather than homogenised masses, can be a game-changer. Just so long as you’re clear about which data you gather about your customers and why that is.
3. For companies to be worthy of their customers
There are multiple differentiators companies can use to stand out from the pack. One of these is, of course, price. But a race to the bottom in price isn’t the only (and may not even be the best) way of appealing to customers. More than ever, customers want to support companies that they feel share similar values with themselves. That could be in the broader sense of championing areas like diversity and inclusion in the way that they are run or using their heft and resources as businesses to support these initiatives in the community, showcasing their social responsibility in the process. It also means treating customers the way that they want — and deserve — to be treated. For instance, embracing empathy and ensuring that this comes across in interactions with customer services can be extremely beneficial for companies. Simply put, customers want to support companies that they feel a kinship with. If the customer journey fits alongside the company journey, that’s a match made in heaven.
Analysing the data
Being aware of these three expectations can help to adjust the way you interact with customers. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be guesswork or trial-and-error, however. Valuable tools like customer journey analytics can help you to analyse customer behaviour and shape omnichannel customer journeys. The customer journey is more important than ever. By placing it front and centre of your business strategy, you’ll be in a position to not just better appeal to your existing customers, but to gain many new ones as well.