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Today’s customers are well-informed, tech-savvy and highly experienced with shopping—both traditional and online. Because of this, customer expectations for the quality of service are dramatically increasing.

As businesses deliver more personalized, valuable and immediate experiences online, customers have more choices than ever. They’ve come to expect that same level of service from every business they shop at.

These realities mean that, in recent years, power has shifted from companies into the hands of customers. Customers have high expectations for service, value and choice. Companies that can’t provide this to their customers risk losing to those that do.

Poor Customer Service Experiences Are No Longer Acceptable

Customers no longer have to settle for service that’s sub-par—usually, there’s plenty of other options out there. Negative customer service experiences are a huge reason customers choose to no longer shop at a company. By growing in this area, your business can gain a leg up against your competition. 

Many customers will stop doing business with a company forever because of just one bad experience. In fact, a third of customers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience. 

That’s not a great look for your brand. The growing number of social media and review platforms means it’s incredibly easy for customers to share their negative experiences with a brand (and customers are much more likely to share a negative experience than a positive experience), harming your online reputation. While a happy customer may share with their friends or family, an unhappy customer is eager to post their experience on social media or on a review platform. Social media is here to stay—businesses need to plan in order to avoid negative ramifications from being negatively discussed online.

So, how can businesses address these customer experience issues before they create a ripple effect that harms their reputation?

3 Ways to Exceed Customer Expectations Today

Customers value prompt service, personalized experiences and smart recommendations. Customers will sometimes choose convenience over cost, turning to companies that make it easier to get things done. Below, find three ways you can incorporate excellent customer service into your traditional or online shopping experience for customers.

1. Provide Prompt Assistance & Immediate Answers (Without Hovering)

If a customer needs a question answered in-store, but there’s no one around to ask, they may see this as an excuse to abandon their intended purchase. Similarly, online, if a chat is unmonitored (or not easily accessible), the customer may choose to shop at a competitor whose chat is clearly accessible. Customers don’t want to wait long to get a simple question answered. In the store, they don’t want to have to wander around looking for someone. Online, they don’t want to have to click through a bunch of contact forms to get ahold of someone. This can be a massive source of frustration, sometimes leading to the customer walking (or clicking) out without completing their purchase.

But keep in mind there needs to be a balance between being helpful and hovering. If company associates can busy themselves by straightening out shelves, but also keeping customers within a reasonable range, they will notice when a customer starts looking for help. Your associate can then approach the customer with a smile. Online, this means having an easy-to-click chat button (and enough representatives ready to answer virtual questions), without having too many pop-ups prompting them to click it.

Customers expect service to be consistent. They want to be able to return online orders in person without a hassle. They want this to be a convenient and pleasant experience, so they feel like they can shop either online or in-store easily.

If a customer needs a question answered in-store, but there’s no one around to ask, they may see this as an excuse to abandon their intended purchase. Similarly, online, if a chat is unmonitored (or not easily accessible), the customer may choose to shop at a competitor whose chat is clearly accessible. Customers don’t want to wait long to get a simple question answered. In the store, they don’t want to have to wander around looking for someone. Online, they don’t want to have to click through a bunch of contact forms to get ahold of someone. This can be a massive source of frustration, sometimes leading to the customer walking (or clicking) out without completing their purchase.

But keep in mind there needs to be a balance between being helpful and hovering. If company associates can busy themselves by straightening out shelves, but also keeping customers within a reasonable range, they will notice when a customer starts looking for help. Your associate can then approach the customer with a smile. Online, this means having an easy-to-click chat button (and enough representatives ready to answer virtual questions), without having too many pop-ups prompting them to click it.

Customers expect service to be consistent. They want to be able to return online orders in person without a hassle. They want this to be a convenient and pleasant experience, so they feel like they can shop either online or in-store easily.

2. Provide Personalized Experiences & Smart Recommendations

Today’s customers expect a more personalized service or a concierge-type experience. They expect more than just a simple recommendation. They are looking to your business as a trusted advisor where you learn about the customer, ask them about their preferences, and curate the right product for them.

Providing personalized service means providing service with that specific customer (or their demographic) in mind. How do you know what they want? Typically in this day and age, you know by collecting data on them or on people like them. People are becoming increasingly more comfortable with their data being collected—as long as they know it’s helping make their experience (and experience for others) better.

Depending on the industry, personalized experience can mean different things. A simple start is greeting your customer by name. A next step is communicating with them on the platform they prefer, e.g. via text or email. Further down the line, you may be able to use data collected (whether virtually or in person) to quickly provide recommendations that individual customers will want. This makes customers feel remembered and cared about—and therefore, more likely to make a purchase and be a loyal brand ambassador.

Once you (or your algorithms) know your customers, you can leverage this to build connections with them in the future. If your company sells body-care products, for example, you could send them reminders to repurchase after a certain span of time—preferably after they opt-in to this service.

3. Provide an Understanding of & Appropriate Response to Complaints

When a customer has a problem, they only want to talk about it once. Customers don’t want to continually repeat themselves. The company representative that takes the complaint needs to own it from start to finish if at all possible, staying on top of the situation until a resolution is met. This can also help turn a potentially negative online review into a positive one.

Here are a few quick tips for dealing with customer complaints:

    • Don’t question their complaint, if possible
      Sometimes, your company needs to stand its ground, but in most situations it’s far easier in the long-term to assume they are telling the truth—and to do what you can to make it right.
    • Listen to them and acknowledge their concerns
      Whoever is taking the complaint should be understanding and avoid being defensive—even if the complaint is about a fellow coworker. Their concern should be heard, acknowledged and not brushed aside.
    • Proceed with a solution if it’s obvious
      Perhaps telling the customer that their concerns have been heard and will be addressed in the future (e.g. talking with a staff member who said something inaccurate) will be enough. If the solution isn’t so simple, the customer service rep could ask them what they would like to see done, and do what they can to make it right based on that. 
    • Apologize and thank them for sharing
      No matter the situation, be apologetic and, above all, thank them for sharing their concerns with you. Even if the problem is unsolvable, thanking them for sharing their perspective could help diffuse the situation.

Embrace the New Reality Around Customer Expectations

Companies need to change their approach to meet the rising expectations of today’s informed customer. Think about what your company can do to prevent negative shopping experiences. When customers have a good experience, they will reward the business not only by coming back but possibly also with a positive review on social media.

Do you want to be better informed about what people are saying about your company online and respond quickly to reviews? Learn how you can automatically collect location-specific feedback and reviews from over 60 sources. Contact us today to learn more about the solutions Shoppers’ View offers!

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