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Adapt or Be Gone: How To Address Changes in Customer Expectations?

Adapt or Be Gone: How To Address Changes in Customer Expectations?

Marine Aubagna February 19 2017

From the first commercial websites, back in 1990s, the advancements in technology have been giving convenience and power to customers. This proliferation of digital channels and technology in general has given customers new ways to gain information, communicate, and collaborate with each other. While many companies have realized the importance of responding and adapting to changes in their customer expectations, some are still reluctant to do so. As customers gain more and more power to choose where and how they do business, this failure to adapt will be nothing more than failure to survive.

What to expect from customer expectations?

As Marketing Metrics simply puts it, “customer who have high expectations and they are not met, will be disappointed and will likely rate their experience as less than satisfying. Because of this, luxury resorts, for example, can have a lower satisfaction rating than a modest budget motel – even though its service and facilities could be deemed superior in absolute terms.”

Some hard facts about customer expectations:

  • All customers have expectations in each and every business relationship. For instance, the more you pay for your car, the more equipment and quality materials you expect.
  • All expectations have two levels: the desired and sufficient. A sufficient service level would be to receive what you ordered while a desired level would mean receiving a complimentary gift or a bonus feature.
  • Customers are looking for a relationship, not a one-time deal. A large part of interviewed customers want to form a relationship with a company and appreciate when they are contacted by a company´s representative.

Customer expectations establish the bar for customer satisfaction which then affects customer loyalty and repurchase decisions. In other words, if your customer feels that the service you are offering is not what he is expecting to get, he will start looking for an alternative. Vice versa, if your service exceeds his expectations, they will not only come back for more but bring their friends with them, as well.

The benefits of knowing your customer expectations

In plain words, your customer satisfaction is nothing more (or less) than a result of what you deliver compared to what your customers expect to receive. By knowing their expectations and adapting your processes accordingly, your business can reap the following benefits:

  • High customer satisfaction
  • Employees focused on providing excellent customer service
  • High percentage of brand advocates
  • Easier resolution of customer complaints

Adapting to changes

Customer expectations have been changing since the dawn of time but the volume of change has never been this high. Still, a good portion of companies find it difficult to keep track and, as a result, experience high churn and damaged reputation.

According to Forrester, 95% of business owners agree that providing a good customer experience is at the top of their strategic priorities and 3/4 of them want to use it as their competitive advantage.

While this looks great on paper, the reality is much different – only 37% of them have dedicated a budget for improving that experience. With or without it, business owners need to know what their customers expect and they need to know it now.

Based on global trends, most customers expect the following:

  • Personalized customer experience
  • Instant availability across different channels
  • Short reply times
  • Reply to feedback

Yes, you have read that correctly. The majority of customers do not think that customer surveys (or any other type of request for feedback) is annoying. They want you to listen to what they have to say, act on it, and let them know what´s been done to fulfill their requests.

5-star customer service and excellent customer satisfaction always start with understanding your customer expectations. By understanding your customer expectations and monitoring the performance of your customer service, you will not only have happy customers but a healthy bottom line. How to do it? As Roy Williams once said, “the first step in exceeding your customer´s expectations is to know those expectations.”

Since customer expectations are evolving constantly, it can be hard for you to know what exactly are they expecting in any given moment. The simplest way of knowing is by asking them with a smart survey.

15 questions to know your customers needs and expectations