Exceed Customer Expectations to Build Relationships

What kind of experience are you providing for your customers?

As technology has become available to almost everyone, customer expectations have evolved. The digital world has rapidly advanced and brought new and ever-changing opportunities to engage customers.

Technology innovators like Netflix, Amazon and Apple have become a part of many consumers’ everyday lives, and these companies have influenced consumers’ expectations of the customer experience.

Improve the customer experience

They probably don’t event realize it, but your customers are demanding more than ever before from their experience with your business. According to McKinsey and Company, intuitive interfaces, around-the-clock availability, real-time fulfillment, personalized treatment, global consistency, and zero errors—this is the world to which customers have become increasingly accustomed. It’s more than a superior user experience, however; when companies get it right, they can also offer more competitive prices because of lower costs, better operational controls, and less risk.

Carrie Johnson, Forrester’s senior vice president of research says the gap between consumer expectations of experience and what most companies can deliver will continue to grow. "There is a nerve-wracking separation between customer expectations and the experiences most firms can deliver," Johnson says. "When any company in any industry introduces a significantly improved experience for customers, consumers will expect this same level of experience from all companies with whom they do business."

As a business owner facing the changing digital landscape, what can you possibly do to keep up?

Take a cue from technology innovators by trying these three things:

Give them personalized recommendations by anticipating their needs. Consumers don't compare a company's customer experience against their industry competitors – they compare it against all customer experiences across all industries. Realistic or not, when Netflix offers the consumer suggestions for other shows she might like based on what she has watched, she expects the same predictive experience on car repairs she will need from her mechanic, says Rick Parrish, Forrester Lead Analyst.

You know your customers and can likely predict their needs. Even if your suggestions don’t hit it out of the park, your customers will appreciate the effort and it will build their relationship with you.

Make it convenient for your customers to do business with you. Amazon set a new standard of online shopping convenience with its Prime service, allowing its customers to receive their goods quickly by paying a one-time fee.

Make it easy for your customers to do business with you by providing services or features that benefit them. For example, offering simple reorders, online shopping, and customized recommendations can save them time.

Offer a delightful customer experience. If it wasn’t key to your business strategy before, it’s now important to create a meaningful and engaging customer experience for your clients. Exceed their expectations to move beyond satisfied customers to delighted customers.

According to Forrester: The pace of change for consumer appetites to adopt new experience will continue to outpace the time it takes companies to deploy these experience-driving technologies. As the gap widens, the window has closed on the opportunity for a slow, methodical transition in delivering a superior customer experience. The time to act is now or risk being left behind.