What are customers going to expect in 2017?

Anyone who has ever worked in a customer-facing role knows the old adage that the customer is king, but thanks to new technology this has never been more accurate.

Customers know more, and as a result expect and demand more. Businesses that fail to respond risk not only loss of custom but also, in this social media age, damage to their reputation.

Here are some of the steps business can take to meet the evolving expectations of their customers.

An experience

Rather than just being sold a product or a service, customers now expect businesses to offer them an experience.

According to a study, by the year 2020†customer experience will overtake price and product†as the key brand differentiator.

Whatever the nature of your business, improving the customer experience is key to increasing sales and boosting loyalty.

But the challenge for many businesses is how to achieve this in a cost-effective way.

The simple way to start is to understand your customers: their wants, their needs and their habits.

Investing in CRM software will allow you to create customer profiles that will help you better understand your customers and measure their needs across multiple channels.

Personalisation

No matter what the size of the business, customers now expect a personalised experience.

Take Amazon, for example. The company is the worldís largest online retailer with an annual turnover of more than £100 billion. Yet, thanks to its software, it offers a personal shopping experience for its customers, with tailored recommendations and special offers based on their shopping habits.

Personalisation neednít be costly, it can be as simple as ensuring you deal with customer interactions, including requests, queries, comments and complaints, as smoothly and quickly as possible.

A customer who feels they are being treated as an individual, rather than a number, is more likely to be loyal.

Multichannel

A multi-channel approach to customer service is becoming an increasingly necessary business strategy.

Traditional methods of communication such as emails, letters and telephone helplines are still integral to every customer service strategy, but offering choice and convenience is now essential.

To guarantee a seamless and pain-free experience for all of your customers, there should be a number of communication channels on offer to them.

Whether itís a live chat message, a phone call, an email or social media comment, your response needs to be quick, personalised and consistently on brand.

Mobile is key

While a multichannel approach is essential, today mobile is key, especially for younger customers.

Time spent on mobile digital media is now significantly higher than on desktop, and businesses that donít provide a satisfactory mobile experience will lose out to those that do.

Research shows customers are less likely to engage with a business after a bad mobile experience, which is why this should be a focus.

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