Great news—customers are more demanding than ever!
A staggering 88% of businesses report their customers “have higher expectations than they did in previous years,” per Hubspot’s State of Customer Service survey. But why on Earth is that great news? Let’s break things down to find out.
Why are customers demanding more?
Modern consumers are more demanding because 1) they can be and 2) should be. They aren’t “too” high. They’re appropriate for the times.
For starters, customers have infinitely more choices than at any other point in history. Consider the humble toothpaste market. There are ~50 major brands of toothpaste in the US offering hundreds of products. And don’t get us started on shampoos!
In addition to variety, customers have 24/7 unlimited access to detailed information about products, thanks to the Internet, mobile devices, and the wide world of product reviews. Shoppers no longer have to carry around a printed copy of Consumer Reports magazine to learn what products to buy or avoid (although, honestly, who ever did that?).
Everything shoppers need to know is available at their fingertips via online rants and raves, from Amazon product reviews to Google Business ratings. There are also a million social media channels, monetized blogs, and online discussion forums devoted to virtually every product category imaginable.
With this much competition and access to reviews, it’s easy to see why customers are so selective.
Today’s customers care about what they’re buying—and who they’re buying from.
Another modern trend is the drastic uptick in customers caring about corporate ethics and brand purposes.
Over the years, buyers have changed how they view the brand-consumer relationship. They recognize their mass (and often capricious) opinions carry weight, so they choose to be more thoughtful about the brands they do business with. And when they don’t like a brand’s actions, they team up to ravage it online, often causing a viral wave that digs deep into a company’s bottom line.
“Retailers have always had to understand their consumers: their buying habits, demographics, behavioral patterns,” notes former Accenture managing director Rachel Barton. “If they do not understand what makes your consumers tick then they are not going to be able to capture their long-term customer…[or] deliver the things that matter to those consumers.”
It makes perfect sense that consumers with options should seek out products or services from businesses whose values align with their own. The key is for businesses to pay attention and decide how they want to portray themselves and be perceived. Authenticity and consistency count.
People want to be treated as people.
In today’s high-tech world, most people still desire to be treated as actual human beings. Go figure!
Yet the advent of AI chatbots and other soulless automated systems is stripping away the old “human touch.” Sure, automation is convenient—for the business. But studies continue to prove that consumers are fed up with impersonal communications. Most shoppers prefer to engage with a customer service rep that has an actual pulse.
Chatbots may seem like an unavoidable evil because they “save money.” But do they really save money if they’re simultaneously causing lost sales? No. CRM platform Salesforce agrees, declaring that 66% of customers “expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.” Notice the word “unique.” Customers demand and expect convenience and efficiency, and a live person is the ideal solution for handling unique customer interactions.
Who (or what) can explain product or service features better—a program or a person?
Who can help frustrated customers resolve problems in real-time better…especially in cases where all it takes is a caring listener on the other end? Well, so far, no one’s invented an AI with feelings, so you decide.
How can your business respond?
Do you have to give the customer everything they want? No, and you’d drive yourself crazy trying because customers don’t all want the exact same things.
Also, business relationships are a two-way street. Just as consumers have expectations, so should you. To set yourself up for success (and avoid burnout), we advise setting boundaries and protecting your well-being and that of your workers. You’ll never be able to please every customer, every time, but you should strive to always take care of yourself and your people.
Okay, with all that said—you DO want to try your hardest to keep customers satisfied so they’ll come back for more. How? First, create and understand your customer avatar. By understanding who your buyers are, what their problems are, and what they deeply care about, you can tailor your products, services, and marketing strategies to meet and exceed their wildest dreams.
But remember, superior customer service and customer support—offered by caring, competent human beings—are critical to making any of this work!
At Ruby, we know that many companies don’t have the resources or capital needed for such staff. That’s where we come in!
Ruby ensures your business meets those demanding customer service and support requirements, thanks to our hard-working live virtual receptionists! Our team is trained and ready to provide you with any level of support you need via flexible, affordable, scalable packages featuring 24/7 support options.
Customer expectations are right where they should be.
So why is it great news that customers are more demanding? At first glance, it seems like the rise in customer expectations poses a problem for many businesses. That’s because it does—but only if that business isn’t ready!
Business owners who understand the value of keeping up with customer service and support will always beat those who don’t. They’ll land new customers and hang on to their loyal existing ones.
And companies didn’t get the memo or just don’t care? They lose because they’ll drive consumers straight into the open arms of their laughing competition.
If you’re ready to level up your service to meet rising customer expectations, just be sure you’ve got your vision and mission aligned with today’s standards. That includes having a sincere passion and purpose for your business because customers care—and can tell when you care too.