If there is one constant in the world of business, it’s the ever-rising customer expectations. But, there’s another elephant in the room that most brands fail to notice. It’s the pace at which customer expectations change.
One week, they love a feature. The next week, they get used to it and anticipate a cooler feature. In case you don’t catch up soon, it’s only a matter of time before your brand gets replaced.
So, what makes customer expectations so unpredictable?
In this article, I’ve covered those ‘business-destructive’ factors and how your brand can conquer the battle of expectations.
Before the arrival of the Internet and search engines, people had limited access to information. Apart from personal recommendations and advertisements, there weren’t many ways for a person to know about a brand.
Fast forward to today, every piece of information is just a Google search away. All you need is a slightly dissatisfied and curious user to search for ‘X product alternative’. And *poof*, just like that your customer is gone. Which is why you need to stay updated on the likes, dislikes of customers and keep offering the best.
#2 Social Media
When it comes to shaping customer expectations, social media platforms wield greater power than usual googling. This is because customers can compare deals, reviews, and content of various brands side by side. Everything’s out there, especially the goof ups and bad PR.
Such events tamper your brand image and a heartwarming sponsored post from a competitor only makes it worse. Customers develop a soft spot for your opposition and eventually click that follow button. Later, when they see that your competitor is replying quickly, they get dissatisfied with your response time.
Similarly, if a customer enjoys an ice cream brand’s engaging content and quizzes, they expect a similar experience from a shoe brand they’re following, irrespective of the industry type. That’s how social media modifies customer expectations in the blink of an eye and can turn even your long time customer into a hater.
When a customer gets a better experience out of a new product, they no longer find their existing product good enough.
At the same time, implementing a major change to an already existing product may not be well received by customers. As they are used to the current workflow, changing user behavior can be difficult. That’s why brands have to be careful while implementing any major change as a wrong step can backfire.
How to Evolve With Customer Expectations
#1 Listen, Listen, Listen
While most brands listen to customer feedback, it’s usually limited to surveys and promoter scores. This covers only a part of what your customers are expecting. Which is why you need to listen to feedback on multiple platforms– review sites, social media, communities, support portal, etc. It provides a 360-degree view.
For example, when Bimbo1 released its red velvet Gansito in the US, it was the social media mentions which revealed their Mexican customers’ demand. So, this made Bimbo’s Gansitos a huge success when they released it in Mexico. Had the brand not actively listened on social media, they would have missed out on a great opportunity.
#2 Keep Up with Recent Trends
Though brands need to be innovative to stay relevant, it is equally important to generate interest among customers. This is because the internet has made it difficult to turn heads as it provides tons of interesting content by default. So, in order to grab the desired attention, you can use recent trends to your brand’s advantage.
For example, this year’s London Marathon made headlines for a different reason2. It replaced 200,000 plastic water bottles with edible seaweed pods for the first time.
The innovative seaweed capsules could be consumed and even if they were thrown away, they’d biodegrade within six weeks. This initiative gained London Marathon a lot of appreciation as many people now expect to be eco-friendly.
#3 Provide an Omnichannel Customer Experience
As a brand, you need to provide an omnichannel customer experience. When a customer hops from one part of the purchase journey to another across multiple channels, there should be a smooth transition. Here’s how fashion retailer Oasis integrated3 their online and offline customer journeys.
They equipped their sales associates in brick-and-mortar stores with iPads. This way, they were able to update accurate product information from website to their customers. In addition, if a product was out of stock, they ordered it from their online store to the customer’s doorstep. As a result, the brand was able to match its customer expectations.
#4 Keep an Eye Out for New Solutions
While competitor analysis lets you know your brand’s standing and areas that need improvement, you also need to look out for disruptors who offer next-gen solutions. This will help evolve your product or create a better solution.
Canon never invented the iPhone, because they were always a camera company. They focused solely on building better cameras that they never realized that their users had to endure a long process to share their vacation pictures. After taking pictures, people had to take the SD card out, plug it into a laptop, upload the pictures and finally share it on Picasa. On the other hand, when the iPhone arrived, the need to buy a camera and several other gadgets declined among customers. That’s how fast any solution can be replaced and also why companies need to stay alert.
Customer expectations are ever changing. With technology keeping the customers updated like never before, you have to be one step ahead in order to be successful. Take every customer feedback seriously and look for new ways to create a great experience. Make sure to change your strategy as and when there’s a lag in the current one. After all, only a brand that adapts to their customers’ expectations can make a long-term impact.
Source:1 – https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/5-times-customer-change/2 – https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2019/04/29/london-marathon-runners-were-handed-seaweed-pouches-instead-of-plastic-bottles/#f71c9182ba203 – https://blog.hubspot.com/service/omni-channel-experience