Customer expectations – get the basics right first

Creating a seamless customer experience - PDF opens
Creating a seamless customer experience – PDF opens

Customer expectations are “changing”. Customers expect the same customer experience “quality” levels  as they “get” them from the best-in-class, regardless of industry. Higher customer expectations means upping the ante to meet them. That’s what everyone tells you – and it’s true.

Nevertheless, it’s key to not lose ourselves in providing “wow” customer experiences. The end-to-end customer experience requires more than that. Furthermore, customers don’t (always) want that “exceptional” experience or service.

They want you to cover the basics first. They want you to get your act together, they perceive your company as a whole and they want their expectations met in a consistent way, regardless of channel, touchpoint and most certainly of how your organization functions. They also want to be treated as “a whole”.

It’s as research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (PDF opens) shows: the key customer experience expectations of consumers are relatively simple and well-known. Still, we all too often fail to deliver upon them.

The top five “traits” of the ideal customer experience:

  • Fast response to enquiries or complaints (essentially, the stuff people want to be answered most): 47%.
  • A simple purchasing process (note that the research was sponsored and has a focus that is somewhat consumer-oriented and shopping-oriented): 47%.
  • The ability to track orders in real time (in other industries and situations we see the same – insurance customers, for instance, want to be able to track claims process progress online): 34%.
  • Clarity and simplicity of product information across channels (clarity and simplicity always matters in a customer context and a mindset of ubiquitous optimization): 25%.
  • The ability to interact with the company over multiple channels (you knew that and of course it’s not just online): 22%.
Ease of use is a tsunami ripping across the world. It is no longer a nice phrase, a nice to have. It is a vital necessity (more).

Striking: the things marketers like to focus on such as personalization and customized offers rank far lower. Does this mean they don’t matter? Certainly not, there is a context for everything. Sometimes they matter more, sometimes less. But it’s clear that for consumers in general they don’t rank as high as they do for marketers – certainly if the basic expectations aren’t met.

Most important elements of the ideal customer experience according to customers in EIU research - via MarketingCharts
Most important elements of the ideal customer experience according to customers in EIU research – via MarketingCharts

Lessons for digital customer experience optimization

Consistent customer experiences, fast response times, accuracy of information, choice and, last but not least, simplicity. That’s what matters and, again, it isn’t new at all. In fact, the findings in this research completely correspond with our growing attention to provide frictionless experiences and remove hurdles, one of the topics that rule the debates in, among others, optimization, customer experience and contact centers. And let’s face it: it’s something any decent web developer, digital marketing practitioner or usability expert can tell you since many years.

So, make sure you don’t overlook these basics in your digital customer experience approach and remove organizational barriers, according to the survey, the core customer experience challenge  (what’s new?).

Company executives accept that the biggest obstacles to better customer service are organisational, rather than technical.