Top Customer Expectations for 2014

In the course of growing a business, every entrepreneur finds himself being torn between a whole bunch of things that demand his attention and that need improvement.

Should I invest more into mobile support or rather work on a better training program for my employees?

Facing the new year, we inevitably end up questioning ourselves, what should I make my priority for these twelve coming months?

Spreading oneself too thin has never produced great results for anyone, so it is definitely worth considering what areas of my business I am going to give the maximum effort and attention this year.

Where to focus your efforts this year

The easiest way to set your preferences is to let your customers do this for you. It is the most simple thing, and at the same time, the most effective.

Ask your customers, “What things do you value as the most important? To get a seamless and enjoyable customer experience, what areas of it would you like to improve, what new services to implement? How can I serve you better?”

If implementing customer surveys is still ahead for you this year, don’t worry. Accenture has done this job for you. You can use their findings to align your actions with your goals. In their consumer research study they put the above questions and some more to customers all over the world. Here is what customers have responded.

Key factors of customer expectations

1. Easy to obtain customer service and support

This expectation tops the rest with 79% of customers desiring customer service and support were easier and more convenient to obtain.

There are several things you can do to meet this expectation – reduce long hold times on the phone, have dedicated people to answer your emails as they arrive, implement live chat, which is known to be one of the fastest customer service channels.

2. Qualified customer service representatives

Customers are frustrated when they have to deal with customer service agents who are not sufficiently trained to help resolve complicated technical issues, who don’t know the products or services their company offers well enough, or who simply don’t know the etiquette of support and are unfriendly and unprofessional.

The cases of unqualified support are not rare today unfortunately, so it is hardly surprising that a whole 67% of customers expressed a desire that customer service representatives received better training.

3. Faster customer support

Unmanned chat support lines, ubiquitous voice machines where you have to press a thousand buttons before you have a chance to wait in queue to get connected with a live operator, unchecked email – all contribute to the complexity of getting support service. The customer has to dedicate a lot of time and effort to resolve what is often a very trivial issue.

The best approach to meet the customer expectation in this area is not only to implement flexible support tools with monitoring capabilities and have enough manpower to provide speedy support, but also to gradually move from reactive to proactive customer service.

4. More channels for obtaining service and support

This year customers expect more options for receiving customer support. These include phone support, live chat, service at store locations, via mobile devices and on social media.

Are you ready to spread yourself between all these channels and provide a unified customer experience across all of them? This is going to take some hard work. Pick which channels you are going to concentrate on this year and optimize your customer service procedures for them.

It is better to provide quality service over one or two channels than demonstrate a lousy service on all platforms. Once you gain quality, you can gradually add more customer service channels and integrate them into your workflow.

5. Customer loyalty and reward programs

According to the above mentioned study, over 50% of consumers expect a specialized treatment for being a loyal and long-term customer. Recognition could take any form, from an upgrade to a gold/platinum status, an extra bonus or discount, some special services reserved for best customers.

What matters is to identify your loyal customers while they are still with you and reward them. Without attention any relationship will fail. Customer relationships are not an exception in this case.

6. Better service and support via mobile devices

Last year 33% of customers used a mobile device to learn about company’s products and services. It is beyond doubt that this figure will be growing drastically over the next few years.

With more people accessing the web via a mobile, the expectation of high quality mobile support service will be growing too. Those who did not adapt to the trend, may be at risk of losing nearly half of their prospects and leads.

7. Personalized customer service and support

Times change quickly. What was considered an intrusion into private life not long ago is now a luxurious service. Customers want the service provider to know more about them and offer solutions/products tailored for their needs.

Perhaps the reason behind this expectation is that customers want to filter out all the noise of the web and get their thing done. There are too much offers floating around and nobody has time to evaluate all of them and make their way through it to locate what they actually need. So naturally, customers appreciate if a company does this job for them and offers them exactly what they have been searching for and what they like.

Final Words

Are you ready to meet the new trends and face the many challenges of 2014? What are you going to make your priority this year?

It is interesting to observe that what customers desire the most is simplicity. What appears to be very difficult for a company (so many expectations to meet), in fact is very easy if we too, like our customers, decide to cut through the clutter and refuse any complexity.

Let’s see what this year brings us. Is it going to be difficult or easy? I am drawn by the intrigue… How about you?