Meeting a customer eye to eye is crucial to getting them on board for the long term. Are your customers head-over-heels with your brand? Or just window-shopping?
You won’t find two customers that think alike. Customers have unique needs but you’ll find a couple of similarities in what will make them stay happy with your brand or shift to another.
Now, aligning your brand products and services to customer expectations does not just help you attract more repeat customers but also influences brand loyalty.
If you aim to impress, you’ll get a quick glance. However, if you want to be loved by your customers, you have to make it your daily mission to meet your customer’s expectations.
You’re not in business for a quick buck after all – you are in for the long game.
Customer Service is the Heart and Soul of Your Business
Companies today are all about branding! A lot of brands or businesses today are too engrossed with the whole marketing mumbo jumbo, trying out every popular strategy to boost their visibility online, yet missing the vital key to guaranteeing business success.
Your marketing efforts are falling flat because you’re investing more in your brand’s frills yet neglecting the most important moving part of your business – customer experience.
After all, your customers remain to be the heart and soul of your business. In fact, a 2011 Bloomberg Businessweek survey revealed that 80% of companies ranked “delivering great customer experience” as a top business strategy
When you meet minds with your customers, you make them feel seen, heard, felt, and valued. No marketing magic can replace that. Managing your customer expectations isn’t trying to fit everyone into a box – because you just can’t.
Understanding Customer Expectations
Companies need to analyze what makes up a loyal customer. It’s not just digging deep into customer needs but focusing all the more on their expectations. There’s a whole new world of difference when you understand their expectations because only then can you invite loyal brand evangelists.
What are the common characteristics that loyal customers share? What do your customers expect from your business? How do you keep customers happy, engaged, and satisfied for the long term?
Customer expectations pertain to anticipating a certain level of experience or interaction with a brand. These can be either positive or negative expectations based on past and current experiences, comparisons with similar businesses or competition, or pure feedback.
Unpacking Customer Motivations
Customers are different and even their motivations to buy vary from one another.
One person may be motivated to buy that Ferrari because of the status symbol but another may be inclined to buy it because it’s durable and also reminds him of his dad who has a lifelong dream to own one.
It’s clear that customers will always choose a brand that understands these motivations. The necessity or preference of buying a specific product or service always has an attached emotional undertone.
With that in mind, the customer journey takes on a different route depending on the needs and preferences of your customers.
Bridging Customer Needs and Customer Expectations
In order to satiate customer needs and manage customer expectations, you must first understand the physical, emotional, and psychological elements that motivate your customers to buy a certain product or service; or seek out a particular brand.
Customer needs refer to choosing products or services that fulfill your needs. For instance, “I need an accounting or bookkeeping service for my construction business.” This pertains to customer needs or a pain point in your business.
On the other hand, customer expectations influence what brand you should go to for a certain product or service. It also involves expectations on the kind of customer experience you’ll have.
Say, when you have many accounting services to choose from, you will choose a particular provider who is close to your location, has amazing feedback from clients, and is also recommended by a trusted colleague. These factors influence customer expectations and make a business pop on top of mind despite having tons of competition
Once you understand the changing needs and expectations of your customers, it’s easier to provide your customers with the level and kind of customer experience they are looking for.
What do your current and past customers say about their experience with your brand? Is there more positive feedback than negative ones? How does your business handle negative criticisms or feedback? Do you take time to respond to every positive or negative feedback?
Drivers Influencing Customer Expectations
What are the drivers that determine customer expectations? There are different factors that impact the decision-making process of customers and it’s critical to understand the mental and psychological processes that every customer goes through to arrive at a certain choice.
Will customers flock to your brand or head to your competition? Read on to know more.
Online Word-Of-Mouth Reputation
Today, many brands are discovered through influencers, reviews, and social media sharing. Altogether, these routes can either translate to sales or for your customers to switch to other brands, depending on your digital footprint.
Overall, your social media word-of-mouth rating has raised the benchmark when it comes to shaping customer perceptions and expectations. You would normally see frustrated customers venting out their complaints online or on social media when their expectations aren’t met.
That said, how your brand appears and appeals on social media will greatly affect your charisma and trust rating with your audience. Customers will buy from a brand that people recommend online or have a massive following and positive feedback.
Marketing does work like a gem in this digital age. A lot of your potential customers hang out on social media. Depending on your niche or industry, you can find your target market on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, and the like.
So, your brand messaging is critical to getting the attention of your customers. You can readily influence customer perception and shape customer expectations with your messaging.
Some brand promotions tend to be overkill which can lead to disappointments because the messaging doesn’t match the results.
So, once customers find out that the fastest commercial drone (from advertising claims) isn’t the fastest, after all, you may easily attract customers the first time but there may be no more repeat purchases following that.
It’s crucial to ensure that the expectations of your customers are met the first time.
How to Manage Customers Expectations
How can you merge the gap between your brand’s messaging and promise with that of customer expectations?
Providing a Friction-Free Customer Experience
Do you make it as painless as possible for your customers to order items from you? Is it easy to get in touch with customer service when there are problems with the products purchased? Do you make it easy to get a refund or replacement when necessary?
These are common questions that come up when providing customers with an easy and seamless customer experience with your business. Customers have already set expectations from your brand at first glance, or even before they connect with you for a product or service.
Every level of touchpoint and encounter with your brand is important, so you have to make it easy and simple for your customers.
Are your websites and apps easy to use? Providing your customers with a user-friendly website is important for them to enjoy exploring your website and what your business has to offer.
More so, if they have to go through a lot of forms just to place an order or contact customer service, then you have to fix this or lose your customers on the spot.
Customers will always want a brand that has 24/7 customer service that can manage customer expectations, especially when handling complaints.
Being responsive and clear with communication will help your customers feel their complaints are recognized, validated, and addressed appropriately without the long waiting time.
This becomes a unique value proposition for your business. You get to manage customer expectations with the interactions around your brand – from window-shopping, actual purchase, after sales services, and ongoing customer support.
More so, when complaints are raised against your business, you have to be more proactive. Address concerns immediately, acknowledging errors if any, and offering ways to compensate such as returns, refunds, and replacements.
Understanding and Managing Customer Expectations with Ease
Customer expectations aren’t siloed. Different brands will have varying sets of customer expectations. And everything is interconnected.
Are your customers looking for a more experiential or immersive experience with your tech products? Do your customers prefer eco-friendly or organic ingredients for beauty and skincare products?
Depending on your offer or your products and services, your customers will have varying expectations of your business. It may be influenced by your brand marketing and messaging strategy, their personal experience with your brand, or online reviews.
The best way to understand and deep-dive into customer’s expectations is by surveys:
- Keep questions straightforward and simple.
- Use open-ended questions.
- Link questions to objectives.
Understanding exactly what customers expect from you will help you improve and reshape your products and services to better fit their needs and expectations.
Once your customers have had positive experiences with your brand, they are sure to come back. And bring more people into your business doorstep!
However, in today’s competitive space, it’s never enough to just keep up with your customer expectations. Or to offer the same CX as your competitors. Go ahead over-deliver and outperform your competition with instant resolutions. Manage your customer’s expectations and meet the mark each time with Telework PH.