Today’s business owners understand the challenges inherent in operating a company in the digital world. You compete not just with the store down the street, but with businesses around the globe. And consumers’ demands grow every year. They want the cheapest price for the highest-quality product, and they want it delivered quickly and with a smile.
If you’re still trying to run your business today the same way you ran it 10 years ago, you’re going to struggle to keep pace with the competition. Each and every day, new technology emerges that’s designed to help businesses improve their customer service, deliver better products, and build customer loyalty.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest consumer demands and how embracing new technology can help you meet them.
Greet Them with a Personalized Touch
Personalization has become a buzzword in marketing of late, but not without reason. According to research from Accenture, 75 percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that knows their name and purchase history and recommends products based on that information.
So personalization can help you seal the deal, but the opposite is true as well: If you’re not taking steps to personally know and greet your customers, you’re likely losing business. Thirty-three percent of consumers who ended a relationship with a company last year did so because they felt the relationship wasn’t personalized enough.
So what is a business owner to do? It’s time to get to know your customers really well. You’ve heard us talk about the importance of data before, right? This is precisely why you need it. Collecting data on your customers allows you to not only target them with the best products and services, but to create new offerings that speak directly to their needs.
This is where a tool like a customer data platform (CDP) comes in. CDPs allow you to track the behavior of each consumer across every channel. Whether they’re a known customer or a mystery prospect, you can track their behavior throughout their customer journey and provide them with the highly personalized service they crave.
Deliver a Great Mobile Experience
Mobile search is the way of the future. Consumers are using it for everything from product research to actual purchases. According to Outer Box Design, 79 percent of consumers have made at least one purchase on a mobile device in the past six months. Additionally, 80 percent of consumers look up product information and reviews on items while they’re shopping in a physical store.
This means that if you’re not providing a great mobile experience, you’re missing out on the opportunity to catch the attention of prospects and customers alike. And unfortunately for most businesses, there’s a gap between customer expectations and what companies are delivering. Qualtrix notes that, while 60 percent of businesses reported that they provide a good mobile experience, only 22 percent of customers agreed.
Beyond that critical first step, you want your website to look great once it loads. Embracing responsive design is the best way to ensure your site is clean, legible, and appealing to mobile viewers.
Provide Instant Answers
Another major shift in consumer expectations is the desire for instantaneous and seamless customer service. Giants like Amazon have set the bar high—with an extensive help platform online and the ability to request an immediate call from customer service if you can’t find what you need on your own—and now all other companies (big and small) are expected to meet it.
According to Edelman Digital, more than half of all consumers expect a response from customer service within an hour, even on the weekends. For a business that doesn’t have the budget and resources of an Amazon (and really, besides Amazon, who does?), it’s near-impossible to meet these standards without the help of technology.
Fortunately, there are more and more digital tools available to all business owners that can provide quick, effective service for customers. Virtual assistant technology allows businesses to respond to customer needs immediately, even after hours. Chat bots are able to answer the majority of user questions, and they can collect contact information from those with more complex issues so that a human can follow up.
Gartner notes that by 2020, 25 percent of all customer service operations will use virtual assistants (it was only two percent in 2017). This means that if you’re not considering this technology for your business, you’re likely going to be left behind by the competition, who are already putting it to good use.
The other bit of good news is that customers today are pretty self-sufficient. American Express discovered that 60 percent of consumers prefer to find answers to questions on their own through self-help portals or apps. If you take the time to develop the technology that empowers customers to find answers for themselves, you can save your business time, energy, and money in fielding the same customer service questions over and over.
While changes in digital are at the heart of some of the greatest disruptions across industries, there are also technological advances that are making it easier than ever before to provide incredible, personalized customer service. From using data to develop new, relevant offerings to harnessing chat bot technology to provide instant service no matter the time of day, new technology is making the delivery of top-notch customer experience achievable for any business.
About the Sterling Woods Group, LLC
The Sterling Woods Group’s mission is to help clients make sense of their data to build deeper relationships with their best customers, launch new products and membership programs, and execute smarter marketing strategies.
We use a hypothesis-driven, data supported methodology to discover your “spin”—a simple insight that no one else is paying attention to. Then, we help you assemble the right technologies, marketing plans, and resources to seize this opportunity.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, founder and CEO of the Sterling Woods Group, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. Throughout his career, his focus has been on embracing technology and analytics to spur strategic development and growth.
At the Sterling Woods Group, he and the team are passionate about helping clients understand their best customers through data, and developing products and membership programs that exceed expectations – and generate impressive revenues.
Committed to spreading this message, Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Digiday.
He holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.