Customers expect it all

`Customers expect it all’ – Back in the time when family get togethers were a thing, my father in law told the story of how that week he had bought a new e-reader online at a national bookstore chain where he is a member. The very next day, he received an SMS from the company offering him the same e-reader at a reduced price. Infuriated by this experience, he rang customer support to be told that the only option he had was to return the original purchase and buy a new one at the reduced price.

Customers expect more from online transactions, especially when it comes to brands they’ve entrusted their personal data to. The mysteries of big data are no longer and you don’t need to be a data scientist to understand the concept of campaign exclusions and expect them to be applied to campaigns targeted at you.

“While many people are comfortable providing relevant information about themselves in exchange for better experiences, a trust gap, when companies use customer data in ways that seem invasive or are simply irresponsible, can also threaten customer relationships” says Catherine Hays, co-author of Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints, in a recent interview with Salesforce.

Hays is one of the experts Salesforce has been interviewing about rising customer expectations, ahead of their virtual experience, Connections event in June this year and a key area she notes is that customers are benchmarking their expectations of online purchasing, with Amazon Prime. This means that anything that falls sub-par of Amazon is considered poor service and can damage the customer relationship.

Personally I don’t think customer’s expect a duplicate of Amazon service in every interaction and nor do I think Amazon gets it right every time. I’m sure we’ve all been the recipient of Amazon product recommendations for items very similar to the ones we’ve already purchased, if not the same, just from a different seller.  However, there are key areas that are now non-negotiable because of it and other companies providing a similar service.

  1. Appropriate communications about the status of an order should be automated and any delays or issues should be communicated quickly. Customer’s today don’t expect to have to chase up the status of their orders, they expect to be informed of anything outside of the ordinary.
  2. Customer’s should be able to access latest available information on their order directly, without having to email or call for an update.
  3. The company is expected to know that a customer has purchased a certain item and any subsequent messaging should reflect this. Not acknowledging previous purchase history sends the customer the message that their personal data is not being cared for appropriately and this breaks the trust relationship.
  4. Excluding customers from prospect offers. This is easy enough to do in outbound channel marketing like email and SMS but it’s also achievable in the web advertising space, and definitely should occur on a member-based website.

These baseline interactions form the foundation of a trusted customer/brand relationship when it comes to online purchasing. They establish expected levels of customer service. Anything beyond these items has the potential to boost a brand’s reputation and anything less than it, can erode trust.

There are few exceptions that would cause a customer to stay with a brand that didn’t provide these services; either the product or service can’t be found anywhere else, the price difference is notable, or the customer is a brand advocate and can overlook the poor service for a time, out of loyalty.

Customer’s expect more and as technology progresses and brands continue to push the limits on great customer experience, the baseline interactions expected from every online transaction will grow, leaving behind any brand that can’t provide them to their customer base.

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