Age of Heightened Expectations: A Connected Customer Playbook
Part 1: Are you at risk of losing your customers?
Maybe your organization is in a great place today. You’re running at a fast clip, picking up new customers with ease, and leaving the competition behind. You own your competitive edge and know how to wield it. And you have a living, breathing vision of the future that you can’t wait to unfold.
Or maybe not.
Perhaps you’re somewhere toward the front of the pack, but not leading. You’re jogging along, but it’s an every-day uphill slog to find something new to entice your customers. No matter where you are in today’s race, you have something in common with your competitors: you’re all just trying to figure out who your customers are and what they want—so you can come up with a strategy to make them happy. Or else, you risk losing your connected customer. But why has it gotten so hard? And what’s all the turmoil about?
The world is changing – fast – and as it evolves, commerce is changing too. Everyone seems to have a different name for it – the age of the customer, retail revolution, ubiquitous commerce. Regardless of name, one key message prevails: consumers want what they want, when and how they want it.
What is it people are looking for and why?
Today’s customers are overloaded with choices and information. They have the largest cereal aisle in history to choose from and everyone telling them what brand and product to try. Trust in a company or product has been replaced with their desire for the next best thing, making customer loyalty practically a thing of the past. Competing choices are very close in terms of value proposition, so for the customer, it’s hard to differentiate between offerings and services. In these cases, customers look for an authentic connection between themselves and a product or company, something that appeals to their sense of what’s real and true. And they use this authenticity to guide them.
Technology, media, culture, and innovation are all forces that touch and disrupt the hearts and minds of your customers and impact their behaviors in unmeasurable ways.
Today’s consumers embrace change. They look forward to new experiences and are constantly looking for better ways to do things. They expect their favorite brands to be at the forefront of innovation.
Age of Heightened Expectations
Think back to the first time you ordered something online and had it shipped to you. It took from two weeks to a month to arrive and you weren’t quite sure if it would get there intact and be as advertised. Still, you were probably pleased because in this new world of online shipping, you could get items without leaving your home. This probably changed what you expected of any shopping experience. Didn’t it?
Since those early days of online shopping, things have changed. Now when you order something online, you have copious reviews to help you with your selection. Your item arrives in two days to a week. You also get a thank-you note, a shipping confirmation number, a dated status for your delivery, and a mechanism for free returns if needed. All that, and you probably didn’t feel the experience was anything special. In fact, you may have been disappointed that no one unpacked your purchase, made sure it was working, then carted the box away.
Every time you shop, your expectations rise. You want more for your money, your time, and your effort.
You have heightened your expectations.
And you’re not alone.
Evolving technology enables customers to purchase anything, any-time – for a discounted price. And they want (and deserve) to be treated like royalty while they’re doing it. The only problem with this is next time, they’ll want more.
Many business advisors recommend disrupting the customer experience in new and surprising ways to engage your customers at a deeper level. If you can’t invent something new, why not take an existing idea and make it better, like Uber or AirBnB did?
While there’s truth to the disruption model these experts prescribe, their insights are based on what companies can do to garner more attention. But they’re missing the fact that, in the end, the customer is the biggest disruptor of all.
Rather than thinking about how to be disruptive, companies should focus on how to meet consumers’ rising expectations. Understanding these expectations is the key to unraveling the mystery of the unsatisfied consumer and will be the magic ball that holds the answers vital to the future of your business.
Disruption is no more than creating the ability to change consumer’s behaviors in a positive way.