One of the most important things a company can do is meet customer expectations. Businesses can lose money and face brand image issues if they don't take steps to ensure customer satisfaction. Meeting and exceeding customer expectations can be challenging, but making an effort in this direction will lead to better results down the road.
So, in this article, we'll take you through the definition of customer expectations, why customer expectations are essential for business, what companies can do to ensure they meet customer expectations, and how a customer feedback tool can be proven an asset for your business.
What Are Customer Expectations?
Customer expectations are essentially a collection of behaviors that customers anticipate from businesses during each interaction. These expectations are based on the customer’s previous experiences and will vary depending on the industry and company.
Several factors influence customer expectations:
- Product or service quality: This refers to the level of performance that customers expect from a company based on their prior experience with the product or service. For example, if you have purchased a new smartphone from a specific brand and find it slow, you’ll have low expectations for future purchases of smartphones from this brand.
- Brand reputation: This is how customers perceive your brand, which is based on their past interactions with you or other people’s opinions of your brand. For example, if you’re known for poor customer service, customers will have low expectations when contacting the helpdesk and having their issues solved.
- Price: The price of your products or services usually sets the bar for what customers expect from you. The more expensive your products, the higher your customers’ expectations will be.
In order to understand what your customers expect from you, you must first understand their needs and wants. By doing this, you can create an experience that aligns with their expectations and ultimately helps to ensure they’re satisfied with every interaction they have with your brand.
To illustrate this, here are some examples of customer expectations for a product-based business:
- Speed of delivery: Customers expect fast delivery on all orders.
- Quality: Customers expect products to work as advertised and deliver on their promises.
- Value for money: Customers expect to get good value for money when purchasing products from you.
Why Meet Customer Expectations?
Meeting customer expectations is the key to success in business. If you fail to meet your customers' expectations, they will be less likely to buy from you again. Unfortunately, customer expectations are often not fully understood by businesses. Here are some examples:
- A customer expects a high-quality product but receives one of poor quality.
- A customer expects good value for money but receives a poor-value product at a high price.
- A customer expects fast delivery but receives their order late instead.
- A customer expects efficient customer service but has to wait too long for a reply or doesn’t get their issue solved.
If you don’t meet the expectations of your customers, you’ll struggle to retain customers, inevitably leading to a loss of sales and negatively affecting your business in the long run. It’ll also force you to look for ways to acquire a higher number of new customers, which often means investing more money into paid advertising and marketing.
What’s more, failing to meet your customers’ expectations can damage your brand reputation, as people are more likely to share negative experiences with their friends and family than to share positive ones. Gathering negative reviews and opinions from your customers will eventually break your brand image and make it harder for you to gain new customers.
Top 5 Types of Customer Expectations
The expectations customers have of your company can make or break a sale. If the customer doesn't feel like they're getting what they want or expect, then there's a good chance that you'll lose that customer forever.
But what are these customer expectations? And how can you make sure that you're meeting them? Here are five types of expectations that every company needs to be aware of.
Explicit customer expectations are the “musts” that every customer has in mind before making a purchase decision and that they explicitly express while interacting with you.
These expectations include things like price, quality, or delivery time. For example, if you sell laptops, customers may come into your store expecting to purchase a laptop with specific parameters and within a particular price range.
Implicit customer expectations are the basic assumptions customers have about your product, service, or company. Implicit expectations are those your customers don't consciously define but still have them.
Implicit expectations are usually based on what your customers have heard about your brand from their family or friends or what they have read about it online before interacting with you. They can also be based on your customers’ past experiences with similar businesses.
Interpersonal customer expectations refer to the way that customers expect their interactions with your employees to be handled - whether it’s interacting with an employee in the store, via live chat, or while calling customer support.
Interpersonal expectations usually include things like how quickly a business responds to emails or phone calls, the quality of customer service, and whether a company has a reputation for providing good customer service.
These are the expectations your customers have when they interact with you online, whether it's through your website, mobile app, interactive quiz, or social media channels. Therefore, it's important that these channels are easy to navigate and provide helpful information about your brand and its products or services.
For example, if you're running a restaurant, the digital expectations of your customer would be being able to navigate your site easily, see the menu and make a reservation quickly.
Dynamic performance expectations
Customers also have expectations regarding how your products or services should change over time. These are called "dynamic performance expectations." For example, customers may expect your product to become more user-friendly over time or to be easier to install and maintain.
These expectations are usually based on the changes in the market and how your competitors are improving their products or services.
Customer Expectations to Ensure Customer Satisfaction
Customer expectations have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. As customers, we have certain expectations from the businesses we interact with. If these expectations aren’t met, we won’t feel enticed to purchase from you again.
So, it's essential to understand what they want and need from your company and products or services. Here are some tips to help you handle customer expectations better:
- Find out what your customers want. Ask them directly what they want by conducting surveys or asking questions via social media.
- Determine how important each expectation is. This will help you prioritize the various expectations by how much they affect your bottom line — both positively and negatively.
- Be transparent about your services or products, delivery times, and other important information so there are no misunderstandings on the customer's end. This also helps you build trust in the customer's eyes.
- Provide a consistent experience. This will help you build trust and, as a result, solid relationships with your customers, which will lead to a higher customer retention rate.
- Handle complaints quickly and politely. When customers have issues or concerns about their experience, address them immediately. This will help you avoid damaging your brand reputation.
To set you on the right foot, here are some of the most important customer expectations you should be aware of.
Fast Customer Service
The first thing that customers expect from businesses is fast customer service. Customers want their issues resolved as soon as possible rather than waiting hours to get a response. In fact, according to a survey by Arise, almost 40% of customers expect to get a response within 24 hours after submitting a customer support ticket via email.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise since most people have become accustomed to having everything delivered in just a few clicks or taps online. If customers feel like they’re wasting their time when they reach out for help with your products or services, they’ll likely stop doing business with you.
Accurate Data by Self-Service
Customers expect to be able to find the information they're looking for quickly and efficiently, without the need to contact customer support every time they have a query. According to a study by Zendesk, 69% of customers try to find the answer to their questions independently before contacting customer service.
This is why it's important to ensure your self-service portals provide accurate answers to questions customers have about your products and services. You can do that by:
- Gathering data about what information your customers ask about the most.
- Keeping your FAQs section up-to-date
- Ensuring the information displayed on the self-service portal is always accurate.
Easy-to-Use Websites and Apps
The user experience is a major factor in customer satisfaction. Customers expect rapid loading of websites and easy navigation. If your website and digital platforms are difficult to navigate and confusing, your customers will get frustrated and leave.
The same goes for mobile apps. In fact, according to Website Builder, 90% of customers will stop using a mobile app if it offers a poor user experience. This proves that customers expect the apps to be simple and straightforward.
A good user experience is essential for keeping customers engaged with your brand. It’s not just about having a well-designed website but also about having a clear understanding of how customers interact with it.
Here are some tips for improving the user experience to ensure better customer satisfaction:
- Make sure that all your platforms work together seamlessly.
- Ensure that your website is easy to navigate and doesn’t confuse your visitors, this is where web designers in Tampa can help.
- Provide accurate and up-to-date information about products and services.
- Develop simple checkout processes that don't require too many steps or complicated forms.
- Make sure your site loads quickly and doesn't crash frequently.
Customers want to be treated as individuals and receive customized service. They want you to remember their names, preferences, and what they like. In fact, Segment has conducted a Personalization Report, which found that 71% of customers feel frustrated when their experience with a brand feels impersonal.
This means that businesses need to be able to find out about customers' needs and preferences in order to provide them with the products and services they want. Here are some tips to offer a personalized experience to your customers:
- Be attentive to their needs and concerns.
- Listen carefully to what they are saying and how they are saying it.
- Ask questions about their preferences and interests.
- Provide solutions that meet their specific needs.
- Make them feel important by addressing them by name or using "you" instead of "we" in your communications.
- Avoid making assumptions about them based on their demographics or other information you may have about them.
- Leverage market research tools to know the customer persona.
Innovative Product or Service
Customers not only expect companies to deliver quality products or services that work as advertised, but they also expect better and better offerings. They’re always on the lookout for innovative products and services: something unexpected, fresh, new, and exciting.
This means that companies must constantly innovate, and new features and functionality must be added regularly. The best way for companies to satisfy these expectations is by creating an internal culture where innovation is encouraged and rewarded. Companies should encourage employees from all departments — including the sales department — to submit ideas for improvement or new products or services.
Customer experience management is a necessity in this business age. In order to ensure customer satisfaction, it’s a must to not only keep up with the various customer expectations but exceed them. By meeting customer expectations, you’re showing your customers that they can trust you, which ensures that your customers will remain loyal to your business.
By implementing the tips covered in this article, you’ll be able to meet your customers’ expectations better, which will eventually lead to building loyalty and getting your satisfied customers to shop with you again and again.