Between people ordering more things at home over the last two years due to the pandemic and the ease of leaving reviews about perceived poor service on social media channels, it is no surprise that customers’ expectations around urgency, flexibility and interaction have all been raised to seemingly higher levels than ever before. In fact, many companies are likely competing with the last best experience a customer received.
Customer satisfaction and urgency are inseparable — this is nothing new. For years, Amazon has been pushing the urgency envelope for all service businesses. However, this expectation has never been coupled with a nationwide employment crisis quite like this before. Despite our country going through the “Great Resignation,” customer demands have not proportionately wavered. Urgency requires an investment in capacity via either staffing or efficiency. How do we navigate the customers’ needs with a lean crew?
If you are first to a scene, customers’ interaction expectations have diverged. There are so many ways to facilitate a customer experience. Customers now expect to have the option to meet in person, buy online, make appointments or raise concerns via chat, buy on the phone, purchase through a pane of glass, purchase via FaceTime, purchase via a drive-thru, purchase via an app, ask Alexa and so on. As service providers, we want to provide a great experience. However, each one of these customer interactions requires a new set of processes and a new set of rules. How do we accommodate these diverse expectations of each customer experience?
Furthermore, customers have developed an expectation around flexibility of how they pay — Apple pay, auto-pay, Venmo, touchless pay, Amazon pay, complex billing and even Bitcoin. The simple cash or credit card days seem to be diminishing. In order to meet these expectations, there has to be an investment in administrative or technical functions. Which payment methods fit the needs of the customer as well as the business and how quickly can they be adapted?
The list of questions all orbits these growing customer expectations. Many companies are well into their 2022 strategic planning process; however, how should we manage the competing demands of the market? As service providers, our tendency is to want to be everything to everyone. I would encourage companies to fight that urge. Each company should be asking themselves two questions: What do we do exceptionally well? What opportunities can we capitalize on and execute firmly?
Therefore, once you isolate those two thoughts, I suggest you focus on stellar customer service and determining the type of investment it will take to make sure you can hit all the scheduling, purchasing and payment touchpoints in a way that leaves everyone happy. Doing the former will provide more opportunities for customers to leave positive reviews, and doing the latter will help chart your company’s course for future urgent customers looking for multiple ways to engage.