Customer Experience

Increasing customer expectations - what's next?

What is the customer looking for in 2020, and what answers must companies provide to the increased customer expectations? Pay attention to these four factors.

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Customers expect more: What companies must change today

What will consumers look for and want to buy in 2020? What expectations will they have for companies, products, and services?

Customers will tell companies what experiences they want them to provide in 2020. They are looking for the highest amount of comfort, speed, simplicity, consistency, courtesy, and humanity. Tremendous effort in buying a product is a thing of the past. Customers can get their desired product, service, or personalized travel experience in just one click. Customers expect companies to not only know what they are looking for, but also that they can predict their future needs and interests and offer them surprising solutions. Despite the use of the latest technology, customers want companies to provide a personal touch and being approachable. This can be achieved by developing a personalized experience through the evaluation of customer information and insights.

However, there is still a strong headwind hampering increasing customer expectations in the form of organizational inertia. According to Forrester's 2019 CX Index, inert companies impede quality improvement in terms of Customer Experience (CX). Outside pressures, triggered by accelerating innovation cycles and hyper-informed customers with high expectations, cause many companies to fall behind Customer Experience (CX).

What customers say:

  • 75% of customers stated that they switched to another brand because they were offered a better experience.
  • 62% of customers share their negative experience on respective platforms. According to a Nielsen survey from 2015, 66% of customers rely on online reviews.
  • 67% of customers stated that they are willing to pay more for a good experience.

(Source: “State of the Connected Customer”, Salesforce)

Which factors influence customer expectations?

Why has there been an increase in customer expectations? The answer lies in those companies that use the latest disruptive technologies with the customer in mind to provide them with a personalized, valuable, and surprising experience. Customers use this experience in setting their expectations for other brands. The positive experience they had with these innovative companies sets a new benchmark for the whole market. What was okay yesterday is not enough today.

1. No silos, no breaks in the customer journey – omnichannel

Customers expect companies to communicate with them via all available channels and ideally via their preferred channels. Thus, consistent communication via all channels is a must.

70% of customers stated that connected processes (seamless processing of their inquiries or contextual commitment based on prior interactions) are vital to them to shop a particular brand.

What does this mean for companies?

Companies who only focus on a few of these channels will lose customers. Companies need to ensure consistent, direct communication and contextual interaction via all channels. They need to respond immediately to the customer's inquiries, needs, and concerns. Furthermore, they need to have all the information on customer interaction to be able to offer an appropriate and personalized experience based on the customer's interest (interaction history).

2. Contextual interaction and personalization: Know your customers better than they know themselves!

Despite the use of the latest technology, customers want companies to be human and approachable, and they want to be treated as a person, not a number. They also expect companies to know how they use their products and services and what prior contact and interaction they had with each other. They expect a high amount of personalized and customized solutions on all interaction levels.

What does this mean for companies?

Investments in intelligent, digital technology, and customer-oriented thinking are needed. All resources should be used to listen to the customer to be able to predict future needs, desires, and behaviors. Companies must design a consistent customer-oriented, agile value-added process that puts the voice of the customer first and considers it as a trigger for optimization.

Fortuneteller with magic ball

3. Surprise the Customer: Drive the Innovation Cycle!

Innovative companies appeal to consumers. The customer of today wants to be surprised more than ever before. The acceleration of innovation cycles has triggered the expectation that the companies a customer interacts with provide new experiences and innovations.

According to a survey by Salesforce more than 65% of consumers stated that it takes a lot more today than in the past to impress them with new products and services - and 63% expect companies to come up with new products and services much more frequently than ever before.

What does this mean for companies?

The fourth industrial revolution is in full swing. Today's consumers enjoy using new, intelligent technologies and connected devices. These technologies satisfy the need to be even better connected and to experience even more comfort and speed.

Companies need to design their innovation processes accordingly and provide a fast response to the increasing expectation of new, improved products and services. Companies must use appropriate technologies to their benefit and differentiation in order to be able to impress their customers.

4. Data Protection Fosters Trust

The careful and respectful handling of personal data builds customer confidence. Many companies are not yet taking data protection 100% seriously, particularly in the United States. There, about 60% of consumers are worried that their personal data will be misused or that a cyber attack could compromise it.

What does this mean for companies?

Companies that provide full transparency regarding the use of the customer's data with the highest security standards in mind and the strict adherence to these standards will gain the customer's trust. If companies adhere to these standards, customers will be more willing to share their personal information with them. These efforts will help companies develop even better and more personalized customer experiences.

Key Takeaways

  1. What's new today will be outdated tomorrow. The age of exponentially disruptive technological change has control over consumers today. They have higher expectations, as they are surprised by innovative companies with new products and services on a daily basis. Even more comfort, intuitiveness, personalization is what is expected from companies.
  2. With the increase in available products, broad and easy access to information and accelerated innovation cycles, there is no longer an incentive for loyalty. Customers and their expectations dictate the relationship they have with companies. It is the customer who chooses. Customers select companies that they can trust and who they feel understand them.
  3. Customer experience has become one of the most important differentiating factors. Customers are willing to pay more for better customer experience. Companies not only have to offer excellent customer experience across all customer touchpoints, but they must prove that their focus is always on the customer’s individual needs.

The next few years will tell which companies understand what it takes to provide excellent customer experience with a convincing CX strategy and by using the latest technology in gaining customer insights. Those who know the customer's expectations and needs and are willing to transform this information into optimization will be competitive in 2020 and beyond.