Brands have difficulty identifying current and future customer expectations while working on better ways to meet industry demands. The ever-changing consumer voice is observable through conversations online and current events which seem to have no origin point. Even with these standards for enterprises being a moving target, there are examples of customer expectations and how companies have stretched to meet them, which we can all learn from. From shifting perspectives around sustainability, data privacy, and the overall voice companies have in society, what can customer expectations teach us about our next steps as an enterprise?
What are Customer Expectations?
What a customer expects is different from their actual experience. In general, customer expectations are the ideas that a customer holds about a product, service, or brand ahead of their interaction with the brand. For example, when one thinks about purchasing an iPhone, consumers may expect higher security and data privacy which is typical of Apple products, versus the different standards set by an Android phone. You might not be surprised to discover that a customer is likely to spend 140% more after a positive experience when their expectations are met.
However, setting expectations around products can be more straightforward for the brand’s marketing department to handle than some of the ambiguous topics pushed into the hands of companies today. Keeping up with rising customer expectations around hot topics like sustainability or social norms can pose a number of challenges, but the primary concern of our innovation studio is how they can outpace a company’s ability to improve its customer experience.
What is Customer Experience?
Let’s imagine ordering a product online, let’s say from Amazon, and receiving an expected delivery date during checkout. How would you feel if your product arrived two days early, included a coupon for a discounted item from that company on your next order, and a free gift? I bet pretty well, and maybe something along the lines of thinking, “What a great deal.” Maybe you’re even tempted to place a second order using that nice little coupon you were gifted. That constitutes a great customer experience. A positive customer experience is a company’s proactive approach that triggers a great feeling in a customer and inspires them to want to continue doing business with a company.
Why does customer experience matter? Implementing a good customer experience strategy has become crucial for companies and leads to various benefits: higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn, and increased revenues. Customer service is no longer the sole aspect of the customer experience, which includes surpassing excellent service and meeting customers’ unvoiced expectations.
How Consumer Shifts Affect Industries
Keeping informed about shifting customer expectations is extremely important for businesses.
Digitalization has played a pivotal role in reshaping customer expectations. The ubiquity of smartphones and online services has propelled the marketplace into the digital realm. Consequently, companies adopting omnichannel strategies and investing in digital technology solutions gain a significant edge over their competitors. Businesses embracing digital transformation report a staggering increase in profitability, highlighting the importance of adapting to the digital landscape. There are only 22% of organizations that have undergone a significant digital business transformation, and those companies have increased their revenue growth and net margins.
Demand for Positive Customer Experience and Service
One prominent factor contributing to shifting customer expectations is the growing demand for exceptional customer service, particularly among Gen Z customers. Millennials are currently in the 27-42 range, continue to be the primary adult consumer, and rate quick service and fast casual loyalty programs as most important. Meanwhile, the oldest Gen Z consumer is turning 26 in 2023, and this generation prefers to ghost brands rather than complain. This is important because while considering customers’ experience, companies must consider the needs of different generations in their target markets.
Tips to Keep Up With Customer Expectations
- Create an emotional connection with your customers.
- Give real-time opportunities for customer feedback, and offer incentives.
- Measure how great customer experiences are affecting your ROI.
- Motivate and train your employees to provide great customer service aligned with brand and company values.
Successful Approaches in Meeting Customer Expectations
Depending on the product or service, consumers will have different expectations motivating them to select and be loyal to certain brands. The elimination process for anything from shopping to choosing which social network to create a profile on can include various factors that can affect their decision. Some of these factors can be things such as sustainability beliefs or data privacy requirements, which we have some examples of below. Ultimately, the goal of a company would be to anticipate shifts in customer expectations or at least identify those shifts for the purposes of making their product or service better over time.
In today’s data-driven world, prioritizing company transparency has become a paramount factor in fostering customer loyalty. Research by Salesforce reveals that an impressive 84% of customers develop heightened feelings of allegiance toward companies that prioritize robust security protocols to safeguard their data. Moreover, a groundbreaking study conducted by the Cyber and Privacy Innovation Institute highlights that 64% of Americans would hold a company more accountable than a hacker in the event of a data breach. These statistics underscore the value of transparency in building and maintaining customer trust, emphasizing the need for businesses to prioritize data protection measures and open communication to strengthen customer retention.
A majority of consumers want more control over their customer data, placing a greater emphasis on “identity data.” Four in ten consumers have stopped doing business with a brand due to a lack of trust or privacy. It doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that MeWe boasts 20 million users on their social media platform. This “next-gen social network” is an app built with the latest social-sharing technology and designed with privacy in mind. In addition to having all of the features users love about Facebook, such as groups, private chats, tagging, and news feeds, it avoids all of the features privacy-oriented users dislike, such as ads, targeted content, and algorithms that manipulate news feeds. With their clear attention to detail, this new network has opened up a new sector of their industry based on a shift in the marketplace which makes it a great example of how consumer expectations can drive innovation.
A staggering 62% of Gen Z consumers are influenced by a brand’s stance on environmental issues. Plus, 71% of Millennials are willing to pay more for a sustainable product. Today’s consumers are well-informed and seek authentic information regarding a brand’s environmental initiatives. They expect companies to go beyond mere lip service and take tangible actions to minimize their carbon footprint, reduce waste, and support eco-friendly practices. By incorporating transparency into their messaging, brands can forge a deeper connection with this influential demographic.
Mint Velvet, a UK-based fashion brand and Shopify Plus merchant, has developed a robust and ambitious sustainability strategy called #MVConscious 2030. The campaign is centered around three key pillars: people, planet, and community. With a clear focus on becoming a more sustainable and circular business, Mint Velvet aims to prioritize the well-being of individuals, mitigate its environmental impact, and actively engage with the community. While Mint Velvet continues to invest in growing its business, its pre-tax profit margins are among the highest in the fashion industry.
What Will the Next Consumer Trend Be?
Exploring consumer trends doesn’t have to be something your company knows how to tackle internally. Using an outside resource with research expertise, the ability to facilitate brainstorming, and gathering the right teams of internal and external stakeholders can help you gain insight into where your marketplace is going next.
The Go Studio team is composed of experts ready to help you find innovative solutions and better align your business to meet customer expectations. We provide an outside perspective that can help you gain another outlook into how to better your product and service offerings to increase brand loyalty and improve the customer experience. Take a tour today and see what we can do for you.
- Keeping informed about shifting customer expectations is extremely important for businesses.
- A customer is likely to spend 140% more after a positive experience when their expectations are met.
- One example of shifting consumer trends is digital transformation, where businesses reported increased profitability after a digitization push internally.
- Data privacy and sustainability are examples of customer expectations that now make or break purchasing decisions, especially with Gen Z buyers.
- Implementing a good customer experience strategy has become crucial for companies and leads to various benefits: higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn, and increased revenues.