I Want It All, I Want It Now

Mark de Bruijn

“I want it all, and I want it now.”

A sentence, once iconically sung by Queen, now seems to be highly relevant for marketers when drawing up customer profiles.

The connected customers of today use multiple channels and make their own decisions as to when and how they contact a company to purchase their goods or services. The research report The Customer in Context clearly demonstrates that, where once the marketer was in charge, it is now the customer who is holding the reins.

Keeping your customers: Five calls to action

How can marketers provide the seamless customer experience necessary to keep consumers coming back? While customers appear to still be willing to reward mediocre behavior from companies, this likely won’t last long.

The in-depth report highlights five calls to action that companies must take online and offline to retain their demanding consumers:

1. Keep it simple

Although customers expect that companies can be contacted anywhere and any time, it is also clear that a wide range of channels is not always the deciding factor. The key touch points customers use to communicate are still the company website (58%) and email (52%).

Additionally, 47% of marketers indicate that even when companies can be contacted through various channels, customers usually pick up the phone to settle their dispute. Consumers prefer an immediate solution and expect quality and quick assistance over the phone. Only 15% expect that companies can be reached across every possible channel.

Having a clear view of the target audience and their preferences is the main priority here. Thorough analysis of engagement data allows you to discover where your target audience is and what channels need to be used to interact with them. In short, quantity of channels should never come at the cost of the quality.

2. Focus on value

To provide an exceptional customer experience, companies are expected to communicate with their customers in a fast and valuable manner. While good customer service is essential to retaining customers, companies also need to maintain a constant focus on providing relevance. By knowing which channels the customer uses, the areas where the customer expects exceptional service become clear.

What are the top components that contribute to exceptional service?

  • Quick response time (51%)
  • High knowledge level of employees (47%)
  • Appreciation for loyal behavior (42%)
  • A personal approach, regardless of the channel and time (38%)
  • Relevant information (38%)
  • Quick and easy to use tools and service options (31%)

And what is it that customers could seriously do without? Those always-available automated services, such as chatbots. Only eight percent of customers indicate that they consider them valuable.

3. Show appreciation and empathy

Loyal customers expect appreciation and empathy in various areas. That is why personalized customer interactions are crucial to the customer experience. This does not mean that you should always know the customer’s name or congratulate them on their birthday. Those types of superficial interactions are not the deciding factor when it comes to customer loyalty. Consumer trust and loyalty are gained by providing deeper, more valuable experiences.

The following questions need to be taken into account when considering customer interactions: Does the interaction meet customer expectations? Will it save the customer time? Does it make their lives easier? If not, then the question of whether it actually adds value for the customer must be asked. Customers’ biggest frustration is a combination of slow service and failure to be aware of a customer’s order history (33%).

Personalized experiences require a fine balance between knowing your customer and worrying your customer. For instance, 23% of customers indicate that companies that know too much and contact them constantly make them feel as though they are the target of impersonal stalking.

A personalized customer experience goes beyond a birthday message. In other words, don’t show up with confetti and cake; instead make sure you know which gifts are on the wish list, and take appropriate action.

4. Fix frustrations before they become real problems

Dissatisfied customers will be more inclined to share their experiences (both online and offline) than satisfied customers.

The most prevalent ways consumers express complaints are:

  • Submitting a complaint form via email or company website (32%)
  • Complaining online or offline to a service employee (31%)
  • Sharing a negative experience with friends and family (29%)

This data does not come as a shock to most marketers, yet complaints still do not get converted into actions often enough. Only three percent of marketers indicate that they have the customer satisfaction process perfectly arranged to turn feedback into action. Tools that identify negative signals offer solutions for marketers, ensuring that frustrations do not lead to a loss of customers.

5. Make sure you are available when your customer needs you

Customers do not care if there is an online or offline interaction, as long as they get good service when they need it and the interaction adds value to their customer experience. The possible cost of disappointment could be that a customer permanently terminates contact due to dissatisfaction about the way they were (or weren’t) helped.

Almost half (45%) of customers indicate they will spend their money elsewhere if they have a negative experience. Slightly more – 47% – of customers even state that they will never again purchase from a company with which they have had multiple negative experiences.

Therefore, it is crucial to ensure solutions provide customer satisfaction when a customer has had a negative experience. If not, the customer will look for other companies to meet customer expectations. It’s simple: If you cannot satisfy your customer, someone else out there will.

Data paves the path to customer satisfaction

The days of generalized customer profiles are numbered. As customers speak up, marketers increasingly gain more insight into customer preferences. Customers expect a personalized customer journey in which they have control over when and how interactions takes place.

To provide exceptional customer service and individualized consumer journeys, companies need to make effective use of data and intelligence. The plethora of information gathered from various tools needs to be converted from data into actions, in which companies deliver marketing in the moment to each individual. Only then, just like Queen, can a company truly sing at the top of their voice, “We are the champions.”

Download the report “The Customer in Context” for free.

This article originally appeared on The Future of Customer Experience and Commerce.

Mark de Bruijn

About Mark de Bruijn

Mark is an energetic and positive marketer with a focus on creativity, teamwork, digital, data and technology. Responsible for SAP Hybris in the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). He is passionate about SAP Hybris solutions for marketing, sales, service, commerce and billing.