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How well do you know your customers’ expectations?June 5th, 2019 by
In our current age of lightning-fast connectivity to virtually everything and everyone, our expectations of relationships—whether they’re personal or service related—have changed. For those of us in the remodeling and home services industries, this means that our customers have higher expectations now than they have in the past.
If you’ve been in the business for several decades, you’ve probably seen this shift firsthand. While 20 years ago a return phone call within a day or two was the norm, you probably wouldn’t dream of waiting that long to get back to a customer today. Just imagine the social media storm you’d encounter!
The point here isn’t to reminisce about the good ol’ days—times change whether we like it or not, and most of us have the very same customer service expectations as our clients. You can absolutely meet (and even exceed) your customers’ expectations of your company, but you have to know what their expectations are to begin with.
Keep reading to learn a few truths about customer expectations as well as four quick tips to help you wow your clients and stand out in the crowd of competitors.
4 realities of customer expectations today
1. Authenticity is a game-changer.
As connected as we all are electronically, nothing can replace genuine, person-to-person interactions. In fact, personalized service can be the key to closing a deal versus losing a potential customer to a competitor.
Empower your staff to engage authentically with customers and take the right steps to create a stellar experience for each client. Sometimes this means taking responsibility for something that wasn’t entirely your fault, but the alternative would likely result in a vocally unhappy customer.
2. A seamless customer experience should be your norm.
Research shows that almost 70 percent of customers expect seamless handoffs between the different steps of their journey with a company. If this doesn’t happen, they’re likely to go elsewhere.
A customer who contacts your company to inquire about new flooring or a bathroom remodel, for example, doesn’t want to repeat their questions to every person they speak to. Customer relationship management software is an essential business tool for tracking leads (and so much more), but don’t forget about in-the-moment communication, too.
Whether you’re transferring a customer between departments or working with a customer who first reached out to you months ago, have a system in place to get everyone involved up to speed on the customer’s history with your company.
3. Treat customer data like gold.
Data breaches are serious business, both for the victims and the organizations that experience the hack. With so many recent high-profile cases of compromised data, however, consumers are wary of handing over their personal information.
At the same time, personalized experiences are very important to a majority of consumers, and studies indicate that people are willing to share personal data if doing so results in curated experiences and perks that are tailored to their interests and needs.
The bottom line here: When you do request a customer’s information, earn their trust by being up front and transparent about how you use that data, how you store it, and how you protect your customers’ privacy.
4. Purchasing decisions take time.
Shopping around, comparing options and products, and getting guidance and advice on purchasing decisions is easier now than ever before. And while you might think that all of those resources would make buying decisions simpler, the reality is that they’ve extended the average time it takes to close a deal.
As a business owner, here’s what this means for you: The keys to success are patience and a steady focus on building ongoing customer relationships.
When you use your time and knowledge to invest in clients before, during, and after a sale, the result is a fiercely loyal customer base. You may not set records in terms of the number of deals closed, but you will realize a far more important achievement: Happy customers who recommend your company and return again and again over the years.
How to meet customer needs and expectations: 4 quick tips
Even though it may sometimes feel otherwise, meeting and exceeding customer expectations and needs isn’t impossible. Be mindful of the following tips to help you consistently meet your customers’ expectations.
Tip #1: Know your core clients.
Every customer is important to your business, but a core group of loyal clients is what will take your company to the next level. Stay in close contact with those customers and make sure you understand what they like best about your company and if their needs or wants change over time.
Tip #2: Focus on customer experience.
Great customer service is important, but it’s no longer the be-all end-all. Consumers expect a simple, thoughtfully planned and executed experience when they interact with your company—whether that’s as they navigate your website before making an inquiry or when they make the final payment on a job.
Tip #3: Use technology and innovation to your (and your customers’) benefit.
Today’s tech-savvy consumers stay up to date with advances in the home services industry and expect the same from the businesses they interact with. This means that innovation should infiltrate both your product offerings and the tools you use to communicate with your clients.
How can you ensure that your business stays current?
- Embrace technology that streamlines your customers’ experiences with your business.
- Actively seek opportunities to offer new products and services.
- Offer multiple communication channels, such as an online customer portal along with a live chat feature, ability to reach company representatives via text, and active social media accounts.
Tip #4: Empower your staff.
To offer the seamless experience today’s customers expect, your staff members need to be able to make decisions to address client requests, questions, and issues without much delay or gatekeeping from management.
Staff members who are empowered to make decisions are better performers—and even more importantly, they’re happier in their jobs. Employees are able to field client questions and issues promptly, which improves your company’s customer experience. As long as you approach employee empowerment with a plan, plenty of training, and easily accessible resources, it’s a win-win.
The bottom line: Be flexible in the face of changing customer service expectations
Customers’ expectations of your business can seem like a constantly moving goalpost at times. What worked well during one year may fall flat the next. So how can you ensure that your company stays agile?
- Know who your most valuable customers are, and keep them at the center of every business decision you make.
- Give your staff the training and support they need to work with clients independently, effectively, and efficiently.
- Be open to new technology as long as it benefits your customers every bit as much as it benefits your business.
In order to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations, you need to understand what those expectations are. Value the relationships you have with your customers and prioritize their experience with your company, and you’ll hit the mark more often than not.