Customers are constantly setting and adjusting their standards for customer service based on what they see other businesses doing. Among these standards is the quality of the customer experience they’re providing. In theory, this sounds simple, but customer expectations can be quite challenging to meet, and even tougher to exceed.
According to a recent Walker study, by the year 2020, customer experience will be overtaking price and product as the key brand differentiator. Customer satisfaction (or a lack thereof) is also closely associated with customer churn during the customer journey, or the loss of customer/clients over a period of time.
Not meeting or exceeding customer expectations can lead to a lower customer satisfaction score. Unhappy customers are unlikely to stick around. According to Ruby Newell-Legner’s “Understanding Customers”, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
In order to deliver a truly great customer experience, your brand must find ways to consistently deliver more than what is expected. Let’s take a deeper look into the concept of customer expectation, then strategize over various ideas to go above and beyond customer expectations to keep customer satisfaction high.
What Is Customer Expectation?
Overall excellent customer service that drives a great customer experience and high customer satisfaction starts with meeting the customer’s expectations.
Customer expectations refer to what your customers want in regard to products and services when they turn to your company. It is the process of setting a specific standard to satisfy their wants and needs. It is also a way of measuring whether a product or service has met or exceeded the customer’s expectation of the brand.
A level of expectation tells the brand whether they are delivering just enough to meet the expectations of the customer, if they’re exceeding them, or if they are falling short, (which can cause disappointments and likely increase churn rate).
Meeting The Expectations of Your Customers
In order to first meet the expectations of your customers, you must understand what your consumers are looking for.
It can be challenging to track customer behaviors (and fluctuating demand), so resulting customer expectations can sometimes be a bit unclear. However, every employee a business hires should be directly responsible for meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
According to multiple studies, most consumers want personalization at some level: it allows them to receive the individual attention they want when deciding whether or not to make a purchase. Here are a few ways to determine what your customers are looking for:
- Conduct surveys and check analytics data for potential threats or opportunities.
- Focus on feedback. (Incorporate the use of a Net Promoter Score.)
- Monitor competitors to see what your target audience is responding to, both positive and negative.
Failing to Meet Expectations
Just as a lack of customer satisfaction is associated with customer churn, a high customer satisfaction score is directly related to customer retention and loyalty.
According to the Institute of Customer Service, a ~10% increase in a company’s customer satisfaction score leads to a 12% increase in trust from customers. Temkin Group found that loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering.
Clearly, a failure to meet customer expectations can have negative ramifications on your business. Try to visualize products that look totally different from their near-perfect visuals on commercials or ads. This an example of a company failing to meet customer expectations, and at the same time, losing the trust among your key market and decreasing overall customer satisfaction.
According to Kolsky, 50% of customers naturally churn every 5 years. However, only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers ever complain about what they’re unhappy about: the rest leave without a word.
Try to ensure that your business is listening to customers who offer feedback, as it is likely to represent a much larger percentage of your total customer base. A failure to address these issues as they arise can negatively impact your company’s reputation through unhappy public reviews.
Continuously failing to meet expectations or failing to repair damages already done can eventually impact your overall customer lifetime value (CLV), and the total money spent expected from a customer over the lifetime of a company’s relationship with them. This one metric has a critical bottom line impact on a business, so ideally, your company will invest in a strategy to exceed customer expectations before getting to this point.
5 Ways to Exceed Customer Expectations
Understanding customer’s expectations and exceeding them has advantages for business:
- It helps you achieve higher customer satisfaction. This helps you understand what level of service keeps your customers happy and engaged.
- It improves your reputation through positive feedback.
- It helps build a solid relationship with customers and increase trust and loyalty.
- It delivers a positive customer experience.
Some simple ways to exceed customer expectations with great customer service management (CSM) include:
- Let your customers know that you care.:Make your customers feel appreciated by providing personalized service. This could include addressing them by name. If you don’t have a system for tracking this, have your CSRs introduce themselves before asking about the reason they’ve got in touch with customer service.
- Ask for feedback: Asking for feedback and monitoring reviews is a great way to learn about the customer’s expectations. Let this be your basis for going above and beyond in your customer service the next time they return.
- Provide the best possible customer service. Give your customer service representatives the best training possible in order to facilitate positive interactions with customers. Start by treating your employees well, so they can mirror that kind of behavior to your customers. After all, empathy is key to a great customer experience.
- Find ways to surprise and delight customers: Customers today want you to know what they want as soon as they ask for help. You can facilitate this experience through recommendations based on what they previously looked at on website or bought. Surprise them with the unexpected by offering things like freebies, free shipping, or fast delivery.
- Be outwardly interested in more than just profits: Adding an element of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to your company gives customers another reason to choose you over another company, while feeling good about their decision in the process.
Ways to Exceed Customer Expectations
Satisfying customers by meeting and exceeding their customer expectations is a great way to forge a strong and solid relationship with customers. Start with a few simple changes and build up a stronger customer experience from there.
Glia’s mission is to meet or exceed the in person customer experience online and we do that with OmniCore. We utilize visual engagement platforms to make for a seamless, unbroken customer journey, using platforms like video chat that allow customers to put a name to a face, which establishes trust.
Ready to take the next step? Request a free demo of Glia!