Technology and the constant use of social media are dramatically changing the world around us. Today, it isn’t surprising that our customers’ expectations are quickly evolving as well– so quickly that sometimes it feels impossible to keep up! Companies that are on top of the changing atmosphere are quickly gaining momentum, while others are falling behind. How can you make sure that your business isn’t left in the digital dust?

With so much competition in the marketplace, consumers now expect more from our businesses than ever. You may be asking yourself: “What can my business do to meet these expectations?” The answer isn’t complicated, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy. Stay informed, and take the time to get to know your customers. This means not only telling them more about your business, but listening to what they say. Most importantly, be open-minded to change!

Once you’ve heard how your customers feel and what they want, you can use this information to design a better customer experience, one that is specially designed for them, for your business, and for today’s technology.

Improving the customer’s experience is an important and immediate goal for businesses. According to data from Forrester, 72 percent of businesses claim it as a top priority. By catering to their unique customer base, businesses are not only interested in the consumer experience, they are using it to their advantage in new and innovative ways. Although the prospect can be daunting at times, improving the customer experience is an incredibly exciting opportunity, for businesses in all sectors.

After listening to customers and colleagues, as well as keeping up with the latest industry talk, I’ve come across some great, useful information. To help convey that information to you, I’ve compiled some tips on what it takes for successful businesses to be ahead of the new, ever-changing game.

Immediacy

You’ve probably noticed (and complained) that customers today expect an immediate response to their needs. Regardless of the product/service, they assume it’s readily available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every week of the year. That may be true of an online marketplace (internet shopping has increased incredibly in popularity, and it’s all about instant gratification). Customers that are familiar with the immediacy of online shopping want the same with support. Unlike before, you can’t—and shouldn’t—tell a customer “someone will return your call or email within 24 hours”.  Not only does this leave customers hanging, it leaves a lot of room for error (technicians don’t get back to them in time, or the customer gives up waiting and moves on).

Progressive companies are using online chats, automated emails and texts, and even automated voice messaging to answer questions promptly. Technology like this allows you to let the customer know immediately that they’ve been heard, and that you’re listening. Although some may shy away from this idea (it’s true, many would still prefer the voice of a real person on the other end of the phone), the idea is to strike a balance between automated and human. Those emails that you send out should have personality and life behind them, and so should the texts, mailers, and phone calls. You, as a business, can still make sure your personality and character shine through the machine. At UpdatePromise, we not only offer email and text support for all our customers, but our tech support also makes every effort to reach out to them directly, which has shown to be very effective in our business.

Well-Trained & Efficient Employees

Take the time to train your team. We’ve found that by making an investment in all our employees’ training, it translates to better service overall for our customers. It may take additional time up front, but the investment is worth it. Put the employee in the customer’s shoes. Make sure they understand who your customers are and how they speak. If an employee is confident and knowledgeable when speaking to customers, they’re already doing great. Take it up a notch by training employees who are not only informed, but kind, sincere, and trustworthy. Customers who have positive experiences with a real human being (and not just a voice reading a pre-recorded script) will give their trust more freely, allowing you to create and retain more customers.

Offer Value

Millions of products and services are available over the internet for customers to choose—and so are the articles, advertisements, and data that advise them about which to buy. Customers are not just looking for high-quality. They expect a seamless experience from the business’s web page to the checkout line. Take the time to understand of every single step of the customer’s buying experience, and use these steps as opportunities to build value. If you put your customer first and offer an incredible product or service, you’ll outdo your less interested competitors.  Take Amazon, for example. By offering a valued service for customers, they are often at the top of the list for purchases across a seemingly endless selection of merchandise. Their system is easy to use and to navigate, puts valuable information about the product at consumers’ fingertips, and follows up with them afterwards to ensure that they loved their purchase. From A-Z, businesses that invest time in the everyday buying process can reap the benefits.

Excellent Service

How can you ensure a customer returns to your place of business? Provide timely, efficient and friendly service—consistently. Many businesses spend valuable time and money to set up incentive programs to retain customers. It’s a great idea and often leads to positive results, but imagine the customer being so excited and satisfied with your business that they come back

anyways. Meeting a customer’s overall needs always wins out in the long run. No matter how great the incentive is, if a customer has experienced discomfort or dissatisfaction with your business in the past, they won’t come back. Live up to your promises. This means verbal promises that you make in person, but also the information you provide on your website, as well. Be consistent in your answers, and stick to your word. For example, our website has a promise: our system, UpdatePromise360, provides automated status updates so customers are informed throughout the entire process. It’s more than just a witty advertisement: it’s the truth, and we strive to deliver that promise with every single customer.

Personalization

Regardless of demographic, no one likes to be lumped together. To address all your customers with one big blanket statement or advertisement is a mistake. Personalization is key, and one of the most important features a company can have. People value personalization: it’s almost as if the product or service was designed specifically for them, and they will often pay more for personalized service. To achieve this level of personal attention, businesses do have to extract more information from their customers than usual. There’s nothing wrong with this, but customers may be concerned about security issues and what happens to their personal data. To keep customers safe and comfortable, we include a privacy policy on our website, which clearly states that we won’t share our customer’s information. Be up front with your customers: make sure to tell them what you plan to do with the information you collect, and then do that.

Be real, be empathetic, be curious, and be honest: these are fundamental traits in any great business, and in any great person. Businesses that put their customers first outperform their less engaging competitors, every time. The tips above are just a few of the ways that companies can not only meet, but exceed the expectations of today’s consumers.

To read more about me, the industry, and UpdatePromise, visit our blog at https://www.updatepromise.com/consumer-experience-corner/

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