Welcome to our conversational guide to customer expectations. You're about to learn all the ins and outs of meeting and exceeding customer expectations in your business that will enable you to provide excellent customer service. We'll start from the basic definitions and move towards more advanced concepts. Feel free to read the contents of this guide in order or jump straight to the section that sparks your interest. Here's a list of topics covered in this guide:
- Definition of Customer Expectations
- Types of Customer Expectations
- Customer Expectations Prioritisation
- Important Factors that Influence Customer Expectations
- The Differences Between Customer Needs & Expectations
- Customer Expectations Have Changed
- Basic Customer Expectations
- Metting Customer Expectations
- Strategies to Meet Customer Expectations
- The Role of Chatbots in Meeting Customer Expectations
- The Importance of Meeting Customer Expectations
- Strategies to Exceed Customer Expectations
- Ways in Which Chatbots Help to Exceed Customer Expectations
- The Impact of Empowering Customer Service Teams with Chatbots on Exceeding Customer Expectations
- Ways in Which Customer Service Teams Can Exceed Customer Expectations
- The Importance of Exceeding Customer Expectations
What are Customer Expectations?
Customer expectations describe and give meaning to all the anticipated outcomes of the interaction between a consumer and a business. Precise expectations vary across niches, steps of the customer journey, and even from one person to another, but unless the product or service you offer has never been seen before, the chances are that a customer already has a set of assumptions of how the whole process is going to unfold based on subtle cues and similar experiences from the past.
What are the Types of Customer Expectations?
Customer expectations can be either positive or negative, and this results in just two types of customer expectations, which are:
What are Desirable Customer Expectations?
Desirable customer expectations describe all the desired steps, positive outcomes, and anticipated benefits customers have firmly in mind when they think about completing a task or purchasing a product.
What are Undesirable Customer Expectations?
Undesirable customer expectations describe potential negative consequences or side-effects that customers have in mind that can either annoy them during the process of completing a task or simply prevent them from accomplishing it.
How to Prioritise Customer Expectations?
Customer expectations should be prioritised by their level of importance to the client. This means that you should focus on the most essential expectations first (must-haves) and then gradually move towards less important (nice-to-haves).
What are the Most Important Factors that Influence Customer Expectations?
Various factors can influence customer expectations, but these four are the most common:
How Do Past Experiences Influence Customer Expectations?
Past interactions customers had with businesses continue to influence their expectations. This results in niche-specific expectations that gravitate towards industry standards, but big brands also show customers that amazing experiences are possible. This raises the bar for everyone else because customers won't lower their expectations simply because the business that provided a better experience was from another industry.
How does Price Point Influence Customer Expectations?
The price point is one of the main factors that impacts customer expectations. Of course, this doesn't always have to be true, but from a purely statistical standpoint customers that pay most to buy goods or services tend to also express the highest expectations. Bringing the price down will often influence customers to lower their demands and expect less not only from their purchases but also the overall experience.
How does a Step in the Customer Journey Influence Customer Expectations?
First-time visitors who have never interacted with your company, don't know what to expect, so their expectations will usually reflect industry standards, but this can change quickly in either a positive or negative direction after a few interactions with business representatives and supporting technology. After making a purchase customers expect that your business delivers what was mutually agreed upon before the transaction and that the overall experience aligned with the price point.
How does the Communication Channel Influence Customer Expectations?
People select communication channels not only based on their personal preferences but also on the severity of their issues. When they use emails even if not desirable they expect longer response times, but when they reach out via real-time communication channels like phone or live chat they expect immediate responses without paying too much attention if it's within business hours or not.
What's the Difference Between Customer Needs and Expectations?
The easiest way to understand the difference between customer needs and expectations is that customer needs are the end goals customer wants to accomplish, solutions to their actual or imaginary problems. Customer expectations on the other hand cover all the steps along the way customer envisions. In other words, customer needs are about what needs to be done, and customer expectations are about assumptions about how it's going to be done, and what the outcome is going to be.
How Have Customer Expectations Changed?
Technology advancements are causing customer expectations to raise. Clients have always expected friendly, efficient, and reliable service, but having easy access to an almost indefinite number of competing products and services that are just a few taps or voice commands away has shifted the balance of power from companies to customers. As a result, customers expect more and have less patience for poor customer service experiences. Here's a list of the three most important factors that led to this change:
How Has Free Access to Information Changed Customer Expectations?
Thanks to search engines, online reviews, and social media recommendations it's easier than ever for customers to make educated buying decisions. This means that in addition to the information provided by the company they can easily compare several independent resources and viewpoints to get a better understanding of what to expect from their purchase in terms of product or service quality as well as the overall customer experience.
How Have Real-time Interactions Changed Customer Expectations?
Today, billions of potential customers across the world use real-time messaging for everyday communication. They're chatting with coworkers at work, and communicate with friends and relatives using messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger. This shift in communication habits has led customers to expect real-time answers when they have queries and immediate solutions when they experience problems.
How Has Infinite Supply Changed Customer Expectations?
Regardless of what customers are looking for, there are now at least several alternatives available, and in many cases dozens of competing product or service providers. Since there's an abundance of choices customers have become more selective. This means that showing up with your products or services is no longer enough to attract new clients because customers not only expect the quality product or service, but also an excellent experience.
What are Basic Customer Expectations?
Basic customer expectations are higher than ever. This is especially true in the area of customer service where currently clients take many amenities for granted. Here's a list of basic customer service expectations:
- Quick Problem Resolution
- 24/7 Availability
- Not Having to Repeat
- Availability Across Channels
- Self Service Options
Why do Customers Expect Quick Problem Resolution?
While some situations require additional research, it's important to remember that speed and convenience win over customers today. Clients demand fast replies to their questions because it saves time and makes them feel important.
Why do Customers Expect 24/7 Availability?
Having around-the-clock service is the new normal and not having one makes your company look like you don't care about customers' expectations. Enabling clients to access your services any time they need can significantly boost customer satisfaction.
Why do Customers Expect not to Have to Repeat Themselves?
When customers have to repeat themselves, it gets increasingly harder to meet their expectations and can leave them with an impression that:
- there's no one capable of handling their query
- the business doesn't pay attention
- the company is not managed properly
Why do Customers Expect Availability Across Multiple Channels?
Customers want to connect with your business on the same channels they use to talk to friends and family. So being there to help them on their preferred channel is one of the first steps to meet their customer service expectations.
Why do Customers Expect Self-service Options?
Some customers instead of wanting to talk to a human agent prefer to take care of the questions and problems themselves by using self-service options. This is especially true for younger generations of buyers that have a constantly growing market share.
How to Meet Customer Expectations?
To meet customer expectations you need to understand what makes clients tick and adjust your products, services, and supporting activities to deliver according to their expectations. Several strategies can help you better meet customer expectations.
What are the Strategies That Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Here's a list of five strategies that can help you to meet customer expectations:
- Set a Baseline Based on Industry Standards
- Set Achievable Expectations
- Collect Customer Feedback
- Engage The Right Customers
- Scale Meeting Customer Expectations
How Can Setting a Baseline Based on Industry Standards Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
If what you offer is not something completely new, chances are that a potential customer has interacted with one of your competitors in the past. Their experience largely influences their expectations, and to meet them you need to make sure that what you offer is up to date with industry standards. If your competitors offer superior quality of service it's in your best interest to align yours accordingly.
How Can Setting Achievable Expectations Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Exaggerating the benefits of products or services is a common practice, especially among novice salespeople who are trying to make a sale by bending what their company offers to meet customer expectations. When the gap widens too much it signalises a deeper problem with the product that requires improvements before being able to sell it. Otherwise, it won't be possible to meet artificially inflated customer expectations.
How Does Collecting Customer Feedback Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Collecting customer feedback is one of the best ways to understand your target customer's expectations. Asking questions like what led them to seek your offerings, why they chose your business over the competition, and how satisfied are they after completion of the whole process can be an invaluable source of information that will enable you to better meet customer expectations in the future.
How Does Engaging The Right Customers Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Once you've collected customer feedback and refined your products or services and customer journey to meet these expectations, to yield the best results you need to make sure that you engage the right customers that expect the same. For example, if you optimised your offerings for quality, it'll be difficult to meet the needs of a potential customer who is only interested in the cheapest option available on the market.
How to Meet Customer Expectations at Scale?
The secret to meeting customer expectations at scale lies in combining what humans do well with what chatbots excel at. By using this hybrid approach to meeting customer expectations you can leverage the power of technology to augment and complement your uniquely human skills and abilities to free up the time of your customer service representatives and let them focus on things that matter most.
How can Chatbots Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Meeting customer expectations at scale is hard, but chatbots can help to achieve this goal by ensuring that normally taxing activities when performed manually are never forgotten and delivered on time. Offloading your customer service representatives with chatbots can unlock previously unreachable levels of productivity while making customers feel important, valued, and appreciated. Here's a list of four ways chatbots can help you to meet customer expectations:
How does Accelerating Resolution TIme with Chatbots Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Customers expect you to respond and solve their problems quickly, but this can be challenging especially during off-hours or peak times. This is when a chatbot can step in and help by providing relevant answers from your knowledge base, assisting in rescheduling or canceling appointments, collecting information, and routing conversation to the right representative based on their availability and expertise.
How does Making a Business Available on Every Channel with Chatbots Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Customers want to communicate with businesses using the same channels they use daily to talk with their friends and family. Opening up these channels and answering all the messages manually can quickly become overwhelming, so it's important to partially automate the responses with an omnichannel chatbot, route only a subset of conversations to your human reps, and enable access to all of them from a unified interface.
How does Personalising Customer Experience with Chatbots Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Customers want to share less information explicitly and yet still want relevant and useful answers. Instead of having to derive all the insights manually every single time, chatbots can help you automate the process by inferring expectations from the context, past interactions and purchases, preliminary surveys, and customer feedback. This results in creating personalised experiences that better meet customer expectations.
How does Chatbot-powered Continuous Business Improvement Help to Meet Customer Expectations?
Consistently meeting customer expectations requires creating feedback loops at every step of the way, and while it's an essential first step to continuously improve your business, it also requires time and effort when performed by customer service professionals. Chatbots can help you to streamline this process by automatically collecting conversation metrics, customer feedback, and analysing the sentiment of every interaction.
Why is Meeting Customer Expectations Important?
Meeting customer expectations validates your company and its offerings in the marketplace. It provides evidence that your business can correctly identify what's expected, anticipated, or desired by its target customers and successfully satisfy these expectations. Consistently meeting customer expectations shows that your products or services are considered valuable which is an important first step for business expansion.
What are the Strategies to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Exceeding customer expectations Is all about the effect of a surprise. It means that you shouldn't do the same thing over and over again because it'll lose its appeal and become expected. This is certainly easier said than done, but to exceed customer expectations more often successful business leaders create an empowering and productive environment for their staff and customers where positive emotions can emerge naturally. Here's a list of three strategies that can help to achieve that:
How Can Chatbots Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
One of the best ways to exceed customer expectations is by empowering clients by making them feel that they're in control of everything and that your business is centered around them. Chatbots can help to exceed customer expectations by supporting a customer-centric approach to business in the following ways:
- Simplify Interactions
- Deliver Proactive Customer Service
- Provide Omnichannel Consistency
- Offer a Loyalty Program
- Empower Customer Service Team
How does Simplifying Interactions with Chatbots Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Instead of forcing your customers to learn yet another system, you can let them communicate using natural language. This can significantly reduce the learning curve associated with adopting new technology and create an environment where the system learns the user and not the other way round. Your customers will greatly appreciate the simplicity of conversational interactions available at any time.
How does Delivering Proactive Customer Service with Chatbots Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Instead of always waiting for customers to contact your business you can exceed their expectations by preparing in advance and anticipating their needs before they arise. Offering proactive customer service is one of the best ways to do that, and chatbots are well-equipped to achieve this goal. This means that having to keep track and manually contact clients or send messages including preparation instructions, appointment reminders, or directions to your establishment are things of the past.
How Does Providing Omnichannel Consistency with Chatbots Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Customers select communication channels based on their current activity and the complexity of their issue. Providing consistency across channels that enables them to switch devices without the need to repeat themselves. An omnichannel chatbot that joins multiple channels into one cohesive view for the client has the potential to surprise them and brings an excellent opportunity to exceed their expectations.
How can a Chatbot-powered Loyalty Program Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Based on customers' spending habits you can offer them rewards or discounts after reaching a certain milestone. This shows appreciation for their business and boosts customer satisfaction, but having to track the progress manually can be a tedious task for both your clients and customer service teams. Luckily this activity can also be streamlined with the help of a chatbot making it effortless for customers to participate.
What Impact Does Augmenting Customer Service Teams with Chatbots Have on Exceeding Customer Expectations?
Chatbots offload your customer service team, save their time and mental energy that can be spent more intelligently on things that have a bigger potential to exceed customer expectations rather than on simple and repeatable tasks that can easily be automated. This can be a total game-changer that enables your team to reach its full potential. Here's a list of benefits:
How does Staff Well-being Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Customer service representatives have to expend a lot of energy with every customer interaction and it's increasingly more difficult to be cheerful and attentive when you're constantly mired in drudgery and inefficiency. That's why it's important to empower your team with chatbots so that they can focus on providing remarkable experiences because staff well-being directly translates to satisfied customers.
How do Productivity Improvements Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Improved productivity is only possible with an exceptional work environment behind the scenes and chatbots can help you create it by automating parts of your daily activities to reduce workloads. This means having more time to spend on things that matter most and enables you to either deliver better quality or finish ahead of time, each of which has the potential to exceed expectations and delight your customers.
How Can the Customer Service Team Exceed Customer Expectations?
To exceed customer expectations customer service team needs to deliver something different, that positively surprises clients and makes their experience occasionally remarkable. Here's a list of three strategies your customer service reps can use to exceed customer expectations:
How does Empathy Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
While technology can help you to collect data and build meaningful context around customer experiences, empathy is one of those uniquely human traits that won't ever be replaced with it. Showing your customers that you're able to understand the context around what makes them feel in a certain way before coming up with the right response makes a big difference and helps to exceed customer expectations.
How does Breaking the Script Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Every customer makes assumptions about how the situation is going to unfold and breaking them has the potential to make their experiences memorable. Customers are used to salespeople that try to force them to buy products or services they don't need, just to make a sale. This can be an excellent opportunity to break the script and offer tailored advice based on perceived value even if it means sending them away.
How does Positive Attitude Help to Exceed Customer Expectations?
The final perception customers have about the quality of service they received often boils down to how you made them feel along the way. That's why having an optimistic, positive, and upbeat attitude can make a world of difference. This is especially important when you visit your customers at their place of residence because they might feel insecure after letting a stranger into their house.
Why is it Important to Exceed Customer Expectations?
Many businesses never transition from meeting customer expectations, but merely meeting them means that customer experience was mostly forgettable, and this can be a problem, especially in a saturated marketplace. Exceeding customer expectations is what makes all the difference in how your company is perceived, it improves your brand reputation and makes it memorable. Here's a list of three important business benefits:
How does Exceeding Customer Expectations Help with Business Differentiation?
Exceeding customer expectations enables your brand to stand out in the eyes of potential consumers for the right reasons. It improves the perception of the products or services that you deliver and makes them notably different from the others available on the market. This gives your business an edge that's so important in today's competitive marketplace, enables you to target top-shelf customers and charge premium prices.
How does Exceeding Customer Expectations Impact New Customer Acquisition?
Customers like to share interesting stories in their social circles and their opinions about their experiences in the form of reviews. People trust personal recommendations more than any other form of promotion, and exceeding customer expectations is one of the best ways to generate free word-of-mouth advertising and improve brand reputation that's important when customers evaluate a company before making a purchase decision.
How does Exceeding Customer Expectations Improve Customer Retention?
Making an effort to go the extra mile and exceed customer expectations doesn't go unnoticed. It helps to create emotional bonds with your clients and improves their level of satisfaction. Satisfied customers remain loyal to the brand, and have a natural tendency to keep coming back in the future which increases their lifetime value. This effect accumulates over time and can make a substantial difference to the bottom line.
It's getting increasingly harder to meet ever-growing customer expectations. This is especially true in the area of customer service, where customers expect companies to be available 24/7 and they want to be able to reach your business on the channel of their choice. This can be difficult, especially during peak hours when some customers visit your establishment while others expect prompt responses over digital channels.
Meeting these expectations is hard to scale and maintain, but by delegating supporting activities to chatbots you can empower your staff to deliver better experiences to your customers at scale. Chatbots support a customer-centric approach to business not only by making basic interactions feel effortless but also by anticipating customer needs and providing engaging and useful information at the right time.
The benefits of adopting a hybrid approach to customer service which combines human abilities with artificial intelligence and automation go beyond customer loyalty and retention. They distinguish your brand from the competition, build repeat business, and have the potential to make customer experiences occasionally remarkable, solidify relationships with clients and transform them into promoters of your brand.
It's time to create a system that helps you to meet and exceed customer expectations consistently by progressively delegating an increasing number of supporting activities to intelligent chatbots. This will help to unlock your business's full potential by offloading your human reps, boosting their morale, while improving the experiences customers have when they interact with your business. Doing this consistently can be a total game-changer that enables your business to achieve outstanding results.