By definition, consumer expectations are any set of behaviors or actions that individuals anticipate when interacting with a company. In the past, consumers have expected essential experiences like quality service and fair pricing—but modern consumers have much higher expectations, such as proactive customer service, highly-personalized messaging, and connected experiences across all touchpoints.
Providing this level of customer experience is certainly no simple feat. Over time, due to progress in various fields all connecting to business, expectations are higher than ever. Fueling this preference of high-level experiences and simultaneously benefitting customer-focused brands, however, is technology.
Utilizing the right technologies can help businesses satisfy the preferences of the modern consumer, while also creating a positive customer experience, fueling brand loyalty, and driving sales growth.
Here are five ways technology can provide high-quality customer experiences:
Provide Fast Response to Customer Service Queries
Due to the proliferation of smartphones and mobile search opportunities, today’s consumers are accustomed to immediate answers and instantaneous access to the web. That said, although consumer research reports estimate that customers are willing to wait up to four hours for a response to their online inquiry, almost 90% of these inquiries go unanswered by brands. Lack of response can inevitably become detrimental to sales conversions, revenue, and brand sustainability.
Chatbots, however, help to not only handle this customer service function but more often than not, respond to customer inquiries faster than a human representative would. These artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bots are designed to engage in conversation with human users over the internet and have quickly become a vital part of customer service teams.
Today’s business-to-consumer companies, especially those that utilize e-commerce as a main sales channel, should implement conversational AI and chatbots to not only satisfy consumers’ need for a quick response but also create a more seamless customer journey and increase customer loyalty.
Defend the Security of Customer Data
With an influx of major data breaches that have occurred over the past few years, modern consumers have been especially focused on the protection of their personal data; and they are loyal to businesses they feel safeguard this information with the utmost security.
In fact, research shows that 79% of consumers are concerned about data security and privacy issues. Multiple surveys have found it to be the biggest cause for concern for consumers, especially as the number and severity of data breaches increases. Providing the best possible customer experience means protecting their information and making them feel safe and secure.
Because many cybersecurity mistakes stem from human error, this value-add must start from internal policies, practices, and implementation. This means that all businesses must take internal cybersecurity seriously, whether that be setting guidelines for passwords, controlling physical access to customer data, or deploying secure network options.
Know Your Customer Inside and Out
Improving customer service and helping surpass customers’ expectations of the quality of their experience all stem from knowing who your customers are and what they want. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help you keep track of all your clients, manage their information, and understand their needs in order to provide them the best possible experience.
Many CRM systems are available through a number of different platforms and have integration options for various popular software applications, meaning that you are able to access the information across multiple platforms. You can plan the next step properly depending on the customer, and make sure that each one is getting the appropriate level of attention to detail that provides them with the quality experiences that they look for.
Offer Personalized Experiences
Personalizing the customer experience is no longer just a tactical decision for marketing teams; it’s actually expected and preferred by today’s consumers. According to PSFK, 78% of consumers are interested in receiving personalized recommendations or coupons and offers that are relevant to their current needs while they are shopping in a store.
Utilizing machine learning capabilities (a subset of AI), businesses can utilize customer data to deliver a unique experience to each customer. By gathering information like engagement, click-through rates, search patterns, purchase history, past queries, or help tickets, machine learning models can predict customers’ wants and needs, sometimes before they even know themselves. These insights can easily be used and implemented in email campaigns, loyalty programs, customized home pages, and even in brick-and-mortar sales.
Organizations that have embraced personalization in their marketing strategies have found that their efforts have paid off. In a survey of over 200 digital marketers, 96% praised the ability of personalization to advance customer relationships and 61% said that personalization has helped them achieve superior customer service.
Optimize Shipping Times
Although five to seven days was once a reasonable window of time for something to ship to a customer, waiting any longer than two to four days seems intolerable for the modern consumer. E-commerce giants like Amazon and Target have set the standard for two-day (and often same-day) shipping capabilities, and as shipping speeds increased, expectations increased as well.
The constant demands for faster and more efficient delivery can put a strain on even the mightiest of supply chains. However, businesses can implement digital tools and software into various stages of their supply chain, like inventory management, order fulfillment, or supplier management. These types of tools allow increased visibility into a business’s supply chain and can help to identify where processes can become more efficient, leading to quicker shipping times.
Exceeding the expectations of your customers is one of the most effective ways to create repeat consumers. Ensuring that they are receiving a rapid response with any questions or concerns they have, defending their information and keeping them safe, understanding them more than ever before, personalizing their experiences, and, when applicable, offering speedy delivery. All of these are factors into providing the highest level of customer satisfaction and a quality experience at all levels.
As consumer expectations continue to evolve over time, it’s vital that businesses stay up to date with the expectations and preferences of the consumer. Businesses must consider technology’s role in driving and delivering these expectations and should prioritize these findings when constructing their customer-facing activities.