How Technology is Driving Rising Customer Expectations
How Technology is Driving Rising Customer Expectations
Customer expectations are changing. Improvements in technology are driving new and higher expectations for how companies deliver their services and interact with customers.
Amazon first offered 2-day delivery to their Prime members, then 1-day, same-day, and finally 2-hour service. While customers were first impressed and delighted by the speed of the service, soon, fast shipping became the norm. It has become an expected part of the experience. In 2015, 63% of surveyed consumers felt that 3-4 day shipping was fast. In 2018, that number had dropped to just 25% (Source: Deloitte Consumer Study 2017 and 2018).
Twenty years ago, if you wanted to rent a movie, you needed to drive to your neighborhood Blockbuster. If you were looking for a new release, you better get there early before they were all checked out. Today, you can rent or buy the latest movie releases from the comfort of your couch, streaming them right into your living room. Technology allows you to stream these movies on-demand, whenever you want them. Blockbuster is out of business.
GoShare recently asked business owners and experts if they felt customer expectations were rising, and how they were adjusting to this new norm. Those that spoke with us agreed that customers do expect more. They want multiple ways of reaching companies through customer service, whether it be social media or online chat, and near-instant answers. They expect top quality service and they both read and write reviews to hold companies accountable for delivering at the level they expect.
Customers Expect More
David Bokham, Owner, Philly Home Investor
Customer service expectations have definitely risen, and in some cases, will continue to rise. Amazon has set the gold standard in shipping. Now, 3-5-day shipping or returns that aren’t free, are seen as cumbersome and annoying. Instant chat on Facebook Business pages, or customer websites, have customers being surprised or frustrated when busy local shops don’t get back to them right away. Instant communication is making it so customers expect to be able to get a hold of you instantly, when they want. All this means that customers expect more, and indeed are getting more from other companies. They hold “regular” businesses to Amazon standards. At the end of the day, good customer service is making sure the customer gets what they were promised; has all questions answered; and feels heard and seen
Customers are More Sophisticated
Richard Williamson, Vice President of Marketing, HealthyLynked
Customers today are different from just ten years ago. They are more sophisticated and demanding and, in a sense, less willing to accept ownership of their purchasing decisions. They want an easy way out in the form of a penalty-free return policy. No risk, no fees for shipping an item back, no restocking charges. It’s the Amazon effect. Small retailers are forced to compete with the largest online store in history, echoing Amazon’s flexible, all-inclusive return policy despite lower margins and more expensive shipping costs. That bar has been set and it’s tough to fight it. On the plus side, customers expect–and deserve–better, more responsive, better-trained customer service reps who can deliver a high standard of customer service experience. We have a retail division that runs into “but Amazon does it” on a daily basis. From a customer perspective, it’s great. From a retailer standpoint, it can eat into margins very quickly.
Evolve with Customers or Go Extinct
William Griggs, CEO, Virtual Reality Rental.co
Our ability to access information is increasing, our world is getting smaller, and consumers are demanding transparency from the brands they trust. Because of this, consumers are elevating their expectations of business owners and they openly care more about who they do business. When businesses fall short of their customer’s expectations, they are often met with public backlash thanks to social media.
The ability to hold a company accountable for lackluster customer service has placed a lot of companies in a new but somehow timeless situation – evolve with the demands of consumers or go extinct.
The standards of modern customer service have shifted from just problem-solving to making sure that their experience is pleasing from beginning to end. Customer service no longer starts when there is a crisis or question – it starts from the moment your audience becomes aware of your brand.
If you’re looking to start a business of your own, make sure that you focused on your client’s happiness and making them feel their best. Nothing can replace humanity in customer service, especially when your employee is empowered to go the extra mile to help someone. Experience is the greatest teacher so we make sure that our client’s experience is always world-class.
Seamless Interaction Across Channels
Cameron Weeks, Co-Founder and CEO, Edify Labs
Without a doubt, today’s customers have different expectations regarding service than in the past. Customer service used to be formal, and limited. We could only call during specific hours and often hung up the phone disappointed, but felt our hands were tied. Consumers now demand the ability to interact with businesses as easily and naturally as they do with family and friends. The tools we use in our personal lives, like FaceTime, are wildly superior to what we have available when we engage with our favorite brands. But times are changing.
Today people want — actually demand — seamless interaction across channels, along with personalized service. The agent should know who they are, when they called or texted last, what their issue was — and don’t even think about asking the same question twice. Customers have the spending power and receiving this type of service shouldn’t be hard. But the big brands have held the industry hostage. They haven’t invested in building the technology to meet modern-day demands, and this has been a source of frustration for consumers and customer service employees as well. Thankfully there are advances and consumers the ability to connect with brands and customer service reps in the same way they connect with their friends — via phone, text, chat, email, social media, and even video. These tools are changing the way we get our service and empowering service reps to do their jobs better — and have more fun too because many of the challenges that existed before are being removed. Happy employees leads to happy customers and brands are fully realizing the benefits behind investing in better customer service tech and tools.
Gen Z is Looking for Instant Gratification
Georgianna Oliver, Founder, Package Concierge
While most of today’s shoppers buy online, many aren’t satisfied with next-day shipping – their need for instant gratification is why brick & mortar is still a very necessary channel for today’s retailers. As shopping behaviors evolve, consumers want options that include both online and in-store experiences, which is particularly important to the coveted Generation Z demographic. A recent Package Concierge survey shows that 60 percent of shoppers aged 18-25 say Buy Online, Pick-Up in Store (BOPIS) options play a factor in retailer selection; showing that it literally pays for retailers to adopt a strong automated BOPIS strategy.
Amazon has Set a High Bar
Rodney Yo, Owner, Best Online Traffic School
I definitely think that customer expectations are rising due to the proliferation of 24/7 online shopping, social media, and live chat software. Everything is more connected and mobile which means people expect faster responses and better availability. Companies like Amazon have set the bar really high and those expectations are seeping into other industries as well. Businesses need to keep up and always aim to exceed customer expectations, even if customers are harder to please. For example, we offer 24/7 live chat support for our traffic school course – almost unheard of in our industry. More than that, we respond to most questions within a minute. For some people, this is normal and others are delighted, however, in the end, our customer support is becoming a competitive advantage.
Customers Want Needs Met Immediately
Nick Galov, Geek Supreme, HostingTribunal.com
I would say customer service has been put to a challenge in the past years and its importance has massively increased. With a rise of social media, customers want perfect customer experience and they want their needs to be met immediately.
They often browse around the internet before they make a purchase and capability of answering to their queries promptly is super important. A good part of customer service is to show to customers you’re not profit-driven and that you care for them. That often includes giving some advice, free samples, free trials, etc. The tone of your communication is third, but not the least important factor. Brands and businesses should make sure their tone is reassuring, comforting and confident.
All of these things indicate why Community management is more important than ever. However, some small businesses cannot afford to hire community managers or customer happiness agent’s and that can be a problem when it comes to retaining customers and their acquisition. In that case, I would recommend using chatbots to help customers out before they turn to competition.
Reducing Turnaround Time from Weeks to Days
Jonathan Holloway, Co-Founder, NoExam.com
Over the last 6 years, we have seen customer expectations rise in our business. More companies are entering the market with instant decision products. Customers now expect to be able to get their policy in a few days rather than 6 weeks. We have reacted to this by decreasing our lead response times and increasing customer service reps. We also offer more products that meet the customers’ demands. Overall this increase in expectations is good for business as it drives innovation and forces insurance companies to bring a more efficient buying process to the market. Good customer service for us means that the customer does not have to wait very long to get what they want. They don’t have to wonder what the status of their purchase is. We aim to stay in constant communication with them.
Customer Expect Why They Want When They Want it
Kyle Baptist, CEO and Founder, Marconi’s Beach Outfitters
Does the customer expect better service than they did ten years ago? The short answer is YES! Customers have become accustomed to getting exactly what they want, when they want it and hearing NO is not something anyone is used to hearing nowadays. When you have stores like Macy’s returning used clothes a year after purchase with no questions asked and Amazon processing a return with a click of a button, it’s almost impossible for small businesses to succeed or compete on that level. In terms of Small Business, I think good customer service is respecting the customer but at the same time respecting your store and the policies created for it.
Bottom Line: What I teach my clients and practice in my brick and mortar store is to build relationships and always create a positive environment. However, when it comes to returns and that side of customer service to always respect your store and not copy the big box stores with the anything-goes mentality.
GoShare helps businesses meet the high-demands of their customer’s by providing on-demand delivery services. Our virtual fleet provides last-mile delivery, reverse logistics support, and more. Leverage our network of thousands of local delivery pros as quickly as 30 minutes. Help create a great experience for your customers, including store-to-home white glove delivery. Learn more by clicking here.
Looking for more information about how small businesses and brick and mortar businesses can stay competitive, even in the face of retail giants? Check out these additional posts from GoShare.
- How Small Businesses Can Compete With Amazon
- How Physical Retail Stores Are Using Experiences to Win Customers
- How On-Demand Transportation Can Provide Middle Mile Support
- Retail Delivery Best Practices
- What is Last Mile Delivery?
- How Service Professional Apps are Empowering Consumers
- What is Reverse Logistics?