In a standard business landscape, a discussion about agility begins and ends with businesses, albeit with a minimal focus on customers.
Interestingly, the scenario reversed post-pandemic.
Customers quickly adapted to the pandemic-infused changes and now are better equipped with digital than businesses.
On the contrary, businesses are lagging in meeting the customer expectations in the digital landscape post-pandemic. And studies support this.
Customer expectations: The harsh reality
Businesses often leveraged technology to serve personalized experiences to customers. One fundamental trait that the standard process lacked was empathy, on top of various other qualities.
Salesforce’s 4th State of the Connected Customer report revealed many harsh, contradicting realities that businesses often took for granted.
The extensive report spotlighted on B2B businesses across the globe and discussed how customer expectations in the digital landscape post-pandemic remind of urgency to build trust amongst all stakeholders, essentially with customers.
Reality: Business values
- 89% of customers expect companies to state their values, and 90% expect their demonstration.
Companies must realize that customers perceive a business holistically- how best they give back to communities, neighbours, and the environment.
Reality: Digital First
- 88% percent of customers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to COVID-19.
- 54% of customers expect companies to offer novel products and services.
- 69% look forward to the digital versions of in-person products and services.
The only choice for companies is to embrace digital and head-on with a digital-first vision redesigning their operations for multichannel, high-touch interactions.
Reality: Trust Factor
- 99% of customers opined that companies need to improve their trustworthiness.
- 90% of customers trust that how a company acts during a crisis reveals its steadfastness.
Customer trust remained the primary factor for business growth always. However, post-pandemic its necessity emerged significantly. Companies that ignore to fill this trust void may risk losing their customers to their competitors that score high in the trust factor.
Reality: Sales Reps Expertise
- 84% of customers preferred to buy from sales reps who demonstrated a clear understanding of the business goals. On the contrary, only 57% of customers say sales reps lack adequate business knowledge.
- 66% of customers expect sales reps to devise solutions rather than pitch products. On the contrary, 63% say sales relations focus on products rather than solutions.
- 86% of customers expect a trusted advisor relationship with sales reps. On the contrary, 73% of sales dealings are transactional.
Sales reps must not fall short of knowledge about business goals. The approach towards customers must be solution-oriented rather than trying to pitch products.
Reality: Customer Experience
- 91% of customers say they are more likely to make another purchase after a pleasant service experience.
- On the contrary, 52% of customers describe most service dealings as fragmented.
Customers today need smooth and seamless service. Companies can no longer ignore inter-team silos or limited technology adoption to hamper customer service.
Reality: Personalized Services
- 52% of customers expect personalized offers; this figure was 49% in 2019, while 68% of customers expect brands to display empathy. On the contrary, only 37% of customers say brands illustrate empathy.
- 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. On the contrary, only 34% of companies treat customers as unique individuals.
The pandemic has tired customers.
For instance, offering a high-priced product to a customer, who recently became unemployed due to the pandemic just based on their product search history, can hurt their emotions.
Similarly, sending out promotional emails about a product upgrade to a business that lost its investment might project the brand as an apathetic one.
Reality: Inter team communication
- 76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments.
- On the contrary, 54% of customers believe sales, service, and marketing never share information.
Businesses must fill the gaps between inter-team communication to offer a connected engagement to the customers across all digital touchpoints.
Reality: Digital Transformation and AI
- 58% of consumers expect to do more online shopping after the pandemic than before, and 80% of business buyers expect to conduct more business online.
- 60% of customers are open to AI in customer engagement. Interestingly, 48% of customers believe companies use AI ethically, and 54% are concerned about its bias.
Businesses need to revisit and bolster their digital strategies to catch up with the digital adaption of the customer, specifically, implement AI humanly.
- 86% of consumers expect more transparency over the usage of their personal information.
Data security and compliance assume enhanced prominence post-pandemic where customers spend higher time online and for diverse transactions.
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Reality: Brand Responsibility
56% of customers have re-evaluated the societal role of companies this year.
Companies must stay transparent on the treatment of employees, actions against racial and economic injustices, community involvement, and the existential threat of climate change.
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How businesses can meet the changing customer expectations?
The statistics stand as proof of changing customer expectations.
Does this imply the pandemic totally changed the customer expectations or only to a certain level?
A peek at the expert assumptions about the customer expectations post-pandemic explain this further:
Customer Assumption #1
Customers need digital, but with a human touch.
Despite leveraging AI chatbots and recommendation systems, companies must keep their human helpers ready and handy for customers in pain. Ignoring this might drift the customers to others that offer better human touch in the customer service.
Strategies to achieve better human touch in customer service:
- Offer services that your customers really want.
- Add more human power at the customer touchpoints ignored earlier.
- Strike a balance between data, processes, and the human workforce.
- Redesign your business offerings to present impactful human-free personalization.
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Customer Assumption #2
Customers enjoy the hybrid style, but they love human interactions more.
Companies thinking to switch back to normal must implement a combination of physical, virtual, and hybrid approaches to present a comfortable level of choice for customers.
Strategies to balance human services and digital offerings:
- Analyze how business expansion into other geographies needs a local human touch.
- Assess what new strategies to incorporate to enable a hybrid services flow.
- Consider the impact on various customer segments.
Customer Assumption #3
Customers are ready to pay in full for digital products.
Recent years proved that customers are ready to pay for digital premium services. EdTech and entertainment sectors proved this. However, businesses must behave more empathetically than pre-pandemic, irrespective of the mode of offerings: in-person or digital.
Strategies to add value through hybrid offerings:
- Assess the value of the product or service.
- Estimate how your offering is catering to the customers’ needs.
- Compare if the digital version is adding any extra value to the customer.
Customer Assumption #4
Services would be fully back to normal post-pandemic.
Customers got accustomed to staffing shortages, service cuts, and prolonged ticket resolution time. However, businesses must consider the implications of such measures continue once the routine is back to normal.
Strategies to transition into normal:
- Analyze if the cuts in offerings might help your business once everything is back to normal.
- Calculate your capacity and benefits to reinstate full-fledged services to premium customers.
- Count the opinion of everyone in the team on how to proceed with the cuts.
Customer Assumption #5
Old way is the golden way.
COVID disrupted everything. And hence businesses must revisit their USP and tweak it to the best demands of the times.
Strategies to deliver new and old in a perfect mix:
- Survey your customer preferences and seek their valuable inputs about how and what they expect from your business post-pandemic.
- Assess the right combination of in-person and virtual strategies to take your offerings closer to the customers.
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Let Cloudely help you fill the ‘Customer Expectation – Business Capacity’ gap.
Times drastically changed, so did customer expectations. A flawless balance of technology and human workforce is the pressing priority for businesses to attain the pace customers precisely expect from them.
At Cloudely, we believe in delivering more than what our customers expect. We help global businesses with technology adoption and tech talent – the two vital pillars to propel the organizations at this juncture.
Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can maximize returns and surpass customer expectations by effectively leveraging tech and humans.
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