April 17, 2020

5 ways to exceed your customers’ expectations

The success of a company does not rely on great marketing, a sexy website, email service and so on. Yes all of those things are important, but without one main driving force behind you, you cannot see long lasting success.

Your company’s success boils down to this: customer satisfaction & experience. You may have all the bells and whistles, but if you’re serving your customers poorly either with mediocre products or services, or simply leading customers on a path of rudeness, wrong expectations and broken promises then you’re setting yourself up to fail. 

For your company to stay at the top of its game, it’s imperative to focus upon your customers and their needs. You should be constantly assessing the needs of your consumers and striving to meet them on every count. 

Here are 5 suggestions to help you keep your company’s goals in line with your customers’ expectations.

01. Know your target audience

First and foremost, you should know all about your target audience. This goes beyond the basic demographic data of location, gender, and age. These details do come into play when you develop marketing personas, but you need to dig deeper in order to understand the needs of your consumers and what influences their buying decisions.

Your best bet to do this is to approach your existing customers. Ask them why they chose your product and services over other brands and write down the answers you receive in a single document and add some demographic information to it. For example:

  • Info – Mary Lou, aged 46, lives in London
  • What did she do – Purchased a 360 hiking rucksack.
  • Why – She has been looking for a stylish but functional hiking rucksack for her trip away next month. She chose us because of our good reviews, material qualities and delivery information.
  • How she found my store – She wanted a quality rucksack that she could rely on and was recommended my store by a friend. She then googled our name to find our website.
  • Critical feedback – Her order took 3 days to arrive when she was originally told 2 and didn’t receive a tracking code to monitor it’s delivery. 

See, here we have Mary Lou who ordered a hiking rucksack. The information she has provided tells us that we have good referrals and information about the material of our rucksacks. Immediately, that can inform marketing communication and plans to promote such information. But she also told us that our delivery was a day late and she didn’t have a tracking code. This is part of the customer experience we can now resolve to support future customers in having a great experience and maintain those great reviews. 

It’s simple really. Use the answers you receive to align your company’s services and products with the needs and expectations of your customers. The last thing you want to be doing is sharing your products on social media talking about how fast your delivery is, which can’t be achieved, when in reality your customers are happy to wait for their product and are more interested in the reviews of your products instead.

2. Look for new ways to meet customer needs

Once you have an overview of your target audience and their needs, your goal should be to constantly find new and better ways to meet their expectations. You need to be willing to modify your brand to accommodate your customers’ expectations.

Using our hiking rucksack example, there are two things we can do to help support what our customers need. Firstly, we need to review our delivery times. Can we actually deliver in 2 days or are most customers receiving their products in 3? To be honest, even if you can deliver the package in 2 days, why not promote 3 anyway? By saying you deliver in 3 days, but your customers actually receive their product in 2, drives delight and sparks a feeling that you go above and beyond in your customer service.

What else could we do? Mary Lou didn’t receive a tracking code for her order. Maybe she came onto our website to find out some more information but couldn’t. A great solution here is to integrate a live chat or a chat bot into our website. It’s a simple addition that can make a world of difference. Mary could have jumped onto the live chat and asked, “where is my order?” and in minutes could have had an apologetic response indicating that it will arrive tomorrow, thus quashing her fears that it’s delayed or there’s an issue. Openness and honesty is always the best policy in our opinion as it drives trust and humanises your brand.

Every big change in your company should be driven by the desire to better yourself for your customers. For example, if you want to rebrand, ask yourself, “why”? Then ask, “what do my customers want from my brand?”. Clarifying this steers the focus of the rebuild away from yourself and towards your customers, helping them accept the changes you make rather than be confused by them.

3. Set clear standards for your support team

This is a big one. But, sadly, it’s taken very lightly at times. Your support team directly interacts with your customers. It has a major role to play in ensuring your customer service is excellent and on point. It’s important to hire an exceptional team of customer service providers, but it’s also important they are all singing from that same song sheet. Each member of your team should have clear standards and guidelines to follow in all areas of their customer interactions.

Create guidelines for responding to both major and specific customer inquiries. Establish appropriate and affecting responses to common customer queries. This will ensure consistent customer support for all your customers.

4. Foster a customer-centric culture

Many companies tend to put the responsibility of customer care and happiness on their support team’s shoulders. But customer satisfaction and care should be a company wide operation and goal. The best approach is to foster a company culture that focuses on the happiness and satisfaction of customers.

Encourage your staff to put the needs of your customers front and centre before making impactful decisions. Especially, departments like marketing need to have a strong customer-centric culture. Fostering such a company culture will not only result in happier customers, but it’ll also provide better business outcomes and improved growth.

5. Collect regular feedback and use it!

The best way to constantly meet your customers’ expectations is to take regular feedback from your existing customers. For current services and products, provide an easy way for customers to share their experiences. Any time you introduce a new facet to your company – be it an ad campaign, a new product, or any change — make sure to take customer feedback into account.

Send customer satisfaction surveys that ask questions specific to the customers’ experience. These could include questions that focus on whether your customers like the change or not, and generic customer service questions that focus on your company’s growth and improving your customer service.

But please, we’re begging here, make sure you use the feedback. Each department must be brought into the fact that your customers are your future for success, not an individual or a product. Their feedback will lead the way for improvements and innovation in all areas of your business. When you receive feedback, USE IT!

Asking questions and gauging customer satisfaction and expectations will help you get an overview of the kind of service your company provides and the kind of loyalty your customers have for your brand. It will help you make the needed changes to improve your overall experience.

So, for the moment, put down the social media planning calendar and go and take some time to review these 5 insights to see if there’re any changes you can make today. Happier customers make for happier businesses, so start creating happy today.

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