Changing customer expectations and its impact on loyalty

By: Clarabridge Team

February 25, 2014

By Jon Bird

Female customer

We are all expert customers. While some of us would claim to be more expert than others, the reality is that every single one of us has been buying products and services for most of our lives –  visiting the sweet shop as a child, to that first DVD purchase, up to investing in your first home. Over time we’ve developed certain expectations of how we like to be treated as consumers and of the choices that should be available to us. Ultimately, we know what we want and we expect the best.

When I enter a store, I want to be left alone to shop, I want store staff visible in case I have a question, and I want the checkout to be staffed, with a minimum queue. Overall these are fairly basic; however, these expectations now go far beyond the store. With multi-channel experience now available, consumers like me want to feel special in every way we interact with a brand. More information about consumers is available to companies than ever before to enable them to meet these expectations. The first challenge is to gain that insight and the second to act on it in order to make an impact.

Understanding how customers interact with a brand across channels is key to meeting expectations and ultimately driving loyalty. I put this to the test recently with my bank of 20 years. Lots of new tempting deals for new customers out there, incentivising them to make the switch. Being the loyal fellow that I am, I first called my bank to see what they could offer. Turns out… apparently, not very much (apart from trying to sell me every other service going).

Next stop, Twitter!! I sent a tweet to my current bank as a last ditch effort to get their attention. Meanwhile I also reached out on Twitter to the other providers that I’d recently seen advertised offering great deals. I received a near instant response from all; however they just pushed me back to the customer service channel that got me nowhere in the first place.

Finally, I went to Facebook to see what my friends had to say on the topic. I was absolutely shocked with the response. I think my Klout score rose 5 points from that post alone! I received huge engagement with lots of opinions and information from friends, including horror stories to help me in making my decision.

For me, the brands that are important in my life and have been a part of my life are now closer than ever – almost like a long term friend. And I expect them to know me and understand me like anyone else who has known me for 20 years. Unfortunately in this instance it seems it’s time to make new friends.

Nobody considers himself or herself as a multi-channel customer, although we may interact fluidly across all of your channels. I’m just your customer… For me, it’s as simple as connecting the dots. If I reach out to you on Twitter and you direct me to the Customer care line, I expect you to know the short history. I want a consistent, positive customer experience, regardless of how we interact. (The industry that’s doing very well in my opinion is the airlines. Maybe that’s because of the excellent reward and loyalty schemes).

My key takeaways:

  • Loyalty is more important than ever. In a highly competitive marketplace, if you don’t look after your customers… someone else will. Look for the tell tale signs and trends of what is impacting your customers’ experience.
  • Marrying channel preference and channel efficiency is a difficult line to tread. Are your customers getting resolution in the channel they choose to interact with you first time? If not… maybe this needs to evolve.
  • Don’t just compete to win me as a customer; I expect you to compete to keep me as a customer. Be guided by what customers are saying and use it to your advantage to be proactive.

What are your expectations as a customer?