How to meet customer expectations and keep them happy
Commentary by Andrew Saville, Experian Marketing Services UK
A happy customer is a loyal customer and a loyal customer is more likely to become an advocate.
Advocates and loyal customers are treasured by brands as they drastically increase the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing spend – I think most marketers would agree it costs considerably more to acquire a new customer than it does to repeat a sale with an already engaged individual. “Yes, but how do you keep customers happy?” I hear you ask… Well, it’s quite simple: You have to meet and then exceed customer expectations. Customer expectations are a dynamic feature that ebb and flow regularly, in accordance with a wide range of factors.
So let’s take a look at customer expectations…
Dual level customer expectations
First off, we need to understand that there are two levels of customer expectations: desired and sufficient. The desired level is the service the customer would like to receive while the sufficient level is the service the customer would find acceptable. In modern marketing customers are more demanding than ever. What they expect is much higher than it was in the past and to wow them you need to do something really special. Similarly, if you get it wrong they’re far more likely to shout about it.
Common customer expectations
The main expectations you need to consider are:
• Speed of service
• Efficiency of service
• High quality at a competitive price
• Friendly, helpful service staff
• Prompt replies
• Sufficient stock
• Not being referred on when you ask a question
• Easily navigable store
• Easily navigable website
• Seamless experience across channels/devices
By meeting the expectations of your customers you increase the chance of transforming first time customers into loyal customers, keeping those customers returning and becoming advocates of your brands and services.
How to meet those expectations
In order to meet customer expectation you need to understand those customers. What they want, need and expect. So take a look at your customer profiling and figure out how your current service levels match up with the expectations of your customer base. Alignment between all areas of the business is critical. This ensures the customer experience matches what you know about their expectations – throughout their journey – including online and offline. In order to deliver a consistent and coherent message to the customer, businesses need to take a step back and map the customer journey, based on their understanding of the customer. Most organisations, however, struggle to manage customer expectations and there is a danger of a gap being created in what is expected by management and what actually happens on the front line, a struggle between quality service and productivity. To solve this, brands must ensure that they put the customer first. All key messages, systems and processes must be designed with those customer expectations in mind.
Whatever your proposition, service or products customers will always expect some level of customer service and it’s best to avoid a fully automated arrangement. Even completely automated services are expected to have a ‘real person’ on hand for assistance and certain customer types are going to be more likely to demand to speak to ‘a real person’.
Customers are not generic and therefore it is critical that companies recognise this and respond flexibly to different customer types and behaviour. Knowing that behaviour and those customer types is the first step towards building great customer experiences.
Take a moment to check out Experian Marketing Services, they help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers and can help deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.
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