Understanding the importance of customer expectations

By | August 13, 2021

Customer expectations are opinions about a product, service, or brand that customers hold in their minds.

With the advent of social media, these customer expectations are now often out in the open. However, it is still challenging to identify them and develop a solid solution. You may even have sleepless nights thinking about meeting and exceeding these customer expectations.

But, worry not. We’re here for you.

In this blog, we’ll cover:

  • What are customer expectations?
  • What are the different kinds of customer expectations?
  • How does understanding customer expectations help your business?
  • What do customers expect from companies today?

What are customer expectations?

Customer expectations are any set of behaviors or actions that consumers envision when interacting with a company. Today’s customers expect customized interactions, omnichannel experiences, frictionless product service, and much more.

The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.

Richard Branson ( Founder of the Virgin Group )

What are the different kinds of customer expectations?

Customers’ expectations are an aggregation of multiple factors, but a few key elements are recognized as important influences on customer expectations.

Understanding these expectations is a critical prerequisite to delivering superior service, building brand advocates, and prolonged customer loyalty.

Firstly, let’s take a deeper look at the different kinds of customer expectations, and tips on meeting (and exceeding) these expectations.

  • Explicit expectations
  • Implicit expectations
  • Interpersonal expectations
  • Digital expectations 
  • Dynamic performance expectations

Explicit expectations

Explicit customer expectations are those that customers have regarding the quality of the product, performance, and services rendered. For example, a customer may sign up for helpdesk software expecting minimum feature requests or even a specific price range to align with their product/service goals. 

Implicit expectations 

Let’s say you go to a cafe and order a grilled toast. You specify the type of bread and filling preferences. But you also expect the bread and vegetables to be clean and fresh, the preparation to be hygienic, the staff to be courteous, and so on. But how often do you voice these expectations?  

This is a classic example of implicit customer expectations. While you may have a decently operating product, you will deliver real value to customers and achieve customer satisfaction when meeting their implicit expectations.

Interpersonal expectations

Interpersonal expectations are what customers expect during person-to-person interactions with their service providers. They are of supreme importance in products that require dedicated customer service. Typically, customers will expect support agents to be experts in their field, friendly, and courteous during their interactions. 

Digital expectations 

According to Appnovation’s latest consumer research, The Digital Consumer: Shifting Expectations and Digital Readiness, consumers’ expectations are changing, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some fundamental attributes of customer expectations in today’s digital world include — contextualized communications, product transparency, hassle-free experience across social channels ( Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter), and so on. 

According to a study conducted by PwC, 75 percent of consumers prefer to interact with a real person even as the technology for digital and automated solutions improves (PwC, 2018)

Customers also expect relevant product content readily available to them in the most suitable format on the device of their choosing. 

In a study conducted by DMG Consulting, more than 62% of organizations have migrated to a cloud call center software solution.  Successful businesses invest in contact center technology that empowers them to be efficient in customer service and improve operational costs. 

Dynamic performance expectations 

Dynamic performance expectations are based on how a product or service is expected to change over time. These could be due to:

  • Shifts in the overall environment
  • Change in customer needs
  • Redefining business goals. 
  • Customer support, services, or the product itself.

Since customer behavior and the competitive landscape your business exists in, are evolving simultaneously, the most reliable way to exceed customer expectations is by tracking these expectations and ensuring your business is able to continuously learn and adapt.

Eg: Businesses shifting to delivery and curbside pickup during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

How does understanding customer expectations help your business?

89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience. (Salesforce Research)

The potential rewards are significant: you can boost customer loyalty and acquire new business through positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

So how can you understand your customers better?

  1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to study your business from their point of view. 
  2. Collect and analyze data using a Customer Relationship Management tool to understand their buying behavior. 
  3. Ask them what they think by conducting surveys and sending feedback forms.

Some of the questions you can use for carrying out feedback surveys are listed below:

  • How would you compare our products to our competitors?
  • What are you trying to solve by using our product?
  • How likely are you to recommend this product to others?
  • How could we improve our product to meet your needs better?

This blog post discusses the importance of a CSAT survey after phone interactions and how Freshcaller can help you create the perfect IVR CSAT survey.

Every customer will have a distinct understanding of what customer service means to them. But, the expected level of service varies from industry to industry, marketplace to marketplace, and from one consumer group to another. Therefore, research your marketplace and target markets to find out how your customers expect you to meet their needs. 

 What do customers expect from businesses today?

According to Forrester, nearly 75% of companies want to use customer experience as a competitive advantage over their competitors.

Customer-centric companies understand that resolving customer needs and outperforming expectations along the way is key to driving robust business growth and fostering good relationships with their customers. 

While customer-centricity is not a novel concept, the appropriate steps to accomplish a customer service focus are still murky. Here are the fundamentals to get you started:

  • Personalization
  • Quick response and resolution-time 
  • Omni-channel availability

1. Personalization:

In the past, customer expectations were all about getting a fast response to their questions or complaints. Now, it’s all about personalization. As a result, customers want to be treated like humans and not account numbers and thankfully, technology is on your side in this case.

According to Gladly, 77% of customers recommend a product to friends and family if they provide a more personalized experience.

During their product journey, customers expect you:

  • To understand them
  • Follow their mindset
  • Solve for the common problems they face
  • Offer a reliable solution

With Freshdesk contact center’s dashboard, you can access your customer’s data from past purchases & support experiences to recurring problems or queries, etc. Unifying your customer’s information will benefit your whole team. Additionally, your customers will enjoy a more personal and dedicated form of service.

2. Quick resolution-time 

In one of the most significant findings in a survey conducted by Freshdesk, speed surfaced as the most critical factor to create delightful customer experiences. From the minute your customer reaches out to you for help, the clock starts ticking. However, it will not stop until your customer is satisfied with your response. In short, that clock measures your ‘Time To Resolution,’ an important customer service metric.

With the help of advanced analytical tools, you can keep track of a customers’ preferences and predict their most likely cause for contacting your agents, which in turn, better prepares your business for any inquiries.

Monitoring your Time To Resolution (TTR) can help you to understand shifts in your customers’ experiences. For example, it can:

  • Help you identify conversations that are getting delayed beyond the average time
  • Assist in classifying more elaborate cases that demand multiple people to work on them.
  • Call out inefficient internal processes that are correlated to longer resolution times.

3. Omnichannel Solutions

There are several ways to interact with a brand today. It could be through social media, smartphone apps, email, webchat, or talking to a call center agent by telephone. When a support team is approached via numerous channels, it’s imperative the information from every one of those interactions is consolidated and made available reliably and securely. Now, that’s where omnichannel communication comes in. With an omnichannel approach, agents can map a customer’s conversation journey and understand their behavior. Most omnichannel solutions have robust dashboards that show real-time data on agent-customer interactions through voice, emails, and chat channels. 

Access to synchronized information enables call center managers and executives to get deeper insights into the operations and make informed decisions. Another advantage of an omnichannel is setting automation rules based on the event and time-related triggers —  from assigning a conversation to an agent to sending notifications based on a condition. 

Customers know what excellent service is, what they can expect and what businesses can provide. These form the fundamentals of customer expectations. When companies understand these expectations, they not just meet them but exceed those expectations and deliver a stellar customer experience.

Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman

About Freshcaller 

Freshcaller is a modern-day reimagining of our everyday virtual phone system for customer support, sales, IT, and Remote Work. With Freshdesk’s cloud-based architecture,  bring together the best of legacy features like IVR and advanced capabilities like Smart Escalations, Call Routing, Custom Call Center Analytics, and set up a state-of-the-art business call center. Freshcaller also offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.

If you wish to find out more about what we do, check out our website.

 

The post Understanding the importance of customer expectations appeared first on Freshcaller Blog.