Customer Experience News & Trends

5 things customers crave from your company

This just in: 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience. But that’s not even the biggest payoff of making sure customers truly enjoy dealing with your company.

The real payoff: A positive experience keeps customers from jumping ship. Nearly nine in 10 consumers (89%) have acknowledged that they’ve begun doing business with a competitor due to a poor customer experience with a company.

That data comes from the Customer Experience Impact Report by RightNow Technology. It includes results from a survey of 2,291 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive.

The report also offers major insights into what customers want from your organization:

1. Employ friendly customer service reps

This may sound like a no-brainer — after all, no company intentionally hires rude customer service reps.

But the reality is, some companies fail to recognize when a bright-eyed, bushy tailed hire from a couple of years ago actually turns into Gollum (think: Lord of the Rings).

Nearly three-quarters of customers (73%) said one of the biggest things they want from a company is to deal with friendly employees or customer service representatives. And if customers are saying they want it, it usually means they’re not getting it somewhere.

In fact, 51% said companies are impersonal — sometimes not even getting their names correct.

So be sure to check in on customer-facing employees from time to time to ensure they haven’t slipped into bad habits and aren’t treating customers like mere numbers.

2. Follow up quickly

Of consumers who’ve shared complaints about a poor customer experience online, a whopping 79% said they had their complaints ignored. Wow!

In addition, 58% said their expectations weren’t met because a company was unavailable, didn’t pick up the phone or didn’t answer an email. And 56% said companies are slow to resolve issues.

Again, no company sets out to ignore customers. But customers may feel that way if you shy away from negative comments online or leave them hanging when they call after business hours.

Two things companies need to make sure they do:

  • Acknowledge criticism. Even if you can’t solve a customer’s problem right away, at the very least apologize for what happened and reassure the customer you’ll work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
  • Let customers know when to expect a follow-up. For example, if a customer calls after hours and nobody is in the office, make sure your voice mail lists your office hours and explains when they can expect a call back.

3. Make it easy to find help

More than half the consumers surveyed (55%) said they also crave the ability to easily find the information or help they need.

Is your customer service phone number listed atop your website? How about an email address that’s heavily monitored? Do you have FAQ pages on your website? Do you point customers to social media pages where they can have questions answered quickly?

These are no longer nice-to-haves. These are what customers have come to expect.

4. Personalize the customer experience

This harkens back to the whole, let’s-not-make-customers-feel-like-a-number thing.

More than a third (36%) percent of customers said they crave personalized experiences, and 34% said they’re not getting it because companies they’ve dealt with don’t keep track of their interaction history — e.g., when was the last time they spoke to a sales or customer service agent.

A few ways to offer personalized customer experiences:

  • Customize marketing email using customers’ names and past purchase history.
  • Recommend products and services based on past purchase history.
  • Offer maintenance tips on items customers have already bought.
  • Use the customer’s name throughout every conversation you have with them.

5. Get social

Social media has given companies an extraordinary opportunity to connect with customers — either by adding value to customer relationships with crucial information, or by providing real-time customer support.

The problem: 16% of consumers said companies are anti-social and nowhere to be found on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Granted, that’s a small percentage. But the number shouldn’t even be that high. It indicates there are still companies out there that have yet to embrace social media for what it is — a prime channel through which everything else on this list can be accomplished.

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