Understanding the Truth about Today’s Customers
Customers not only don’t need businesses like they used to; they also aren’t afraid to tell you about it. That is why traditional customer models simply do not work anymore. As a full-service digital marketing company and web developer, we have seen the change in the marketplace and know that understanding the truth about today’s customers is paramount for businesses that wish to be successful in a digital world.
The Truth about Today’s Customers
People can find information themselves online if they need to. The question is, will they bother using your business again of they need to find the information elsewhere and you aren’t actively looking to engage and help them?
Not only do people now expect multiple avenues for contacting a business when assistance is needed to meet their preference, but the majority of people expect that you should know who they are since they are a customer. Verifying a full name, account number, billing address, etc. is important in some cases when it comes to general account security, but at the same time not every query is going to involve sensitive data.
People expect good customer service at the minimum. For those businesses that provide good to great customer service the rewards can be positive feedback and mentions on social media as well as a higher customer satisfaction rating and retention rate. On the flip side, mediocre customer service now quickly leads to negative feedback and mentions as customers vent their frustrations and anger in their preferred social forum such as Twitter or Facebook.
The simple truth is that in most cases today’s customers need businesses less than businesses need the customers.
It is a shift that has occurred with the increase in connectivity and information availability that our technological advances have brought, and a shift that needs to be factored into all aspects of business from sales and marketing to customer service and care. Like most changes in business, opportunity is available for those who take the lead in providing customers what they want to expand their market share while those who fail to adapt risk losing some of theirs.
How to be more Proactive
The biggest shift in being a more proactive business is to focus on providing better inbound customer service. When customers need something and want to connect, your business needs to be there on multiple platforms ready to provide assistance whether it be live chat, providing high quality content that shows up at the top of SERPs for queries, having a well-planned website with sections for FAQs and search capacity, and the like.
- Engage customers on their terms – Traditional customer service and sales involves connecting with customers via phone, email, and in-person. Today’s customers expect more. Your business should be accessible to customers in the places they already are which includes social media platforms, messenger apps, and chat options on a website. A business should be accessible on any channel at any time to fully meet consumer needs. We recently discussed the importance of customer support on social media along with incorporating chatbots or live chat into a website because offering additional conversational communication channels for customers allows positive engagement points which can build trust and increase loyalty. Consider where your customers are, how they might want to contact you, and then create channels to do so. It is important to also train staff properly on how to interact and engage customers on different channels as well as managing conversations that might span multiple channels to ensure customer service and satisfaction levels are as high as possible.
- Utilize feedback methods to gain more insights – A business needs to understand what makes customers happy, what makes them unhappy, and where the pain points are in a process. While we can use analytics and A/B testing to help gain insights, creating feedback mechanisms that regularly provide an opportunity to learn about your customers is the best approach. Surveys, emails, social media polls, reviews, case studies and the like all offer a chance to gain insights and truly understand what they want and need.
- Create proactive solutions based on data – Insights and data should then be used to create proactive solutions to customer problems. For example, if you notice that people repeatedly ask the same question or questions then that information should be more prominently displayed in web copy, on FAQ pages, or be found via a searchable form field on the site. If people constantly ask for dimensions of products, then schematics with dimensions should then be included on product pages. By taking the time to listen and then proactively provide information for future interactions your business can not only eliminate some of the customer service interactions which frees up more time for the customer service department, more importantly you will increase customer happiness as they will find what they want quickly without needing help.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that it is very important to understand the truth about today’s customers; they simply don’t need us as much as we might hope. In an online marketplace where the competition is just a click away and problems can be easily amplified over social channels, focusing on customer needs and providing proactive solutions has never been so important for businesses that not only want to survive, but hope to thrive and grow.
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